Methods To Prepare For Exams

Calming Music, And 9 Other Study Methods To Prepare College Students For Any Major Exam

When your week gets booked, there are simple ways to help get your mind in the zone.

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Making through the first two months of a new semester without breaking down might be considered an accomplishment for college students. If the homework assignments are not as difficult as you originally believed, there should be nothing to worry about. The one major thing that is still considered a pain among college students is exams. The one- or two-page quizzes or long midterms, upon discovering the exact date and time, will send any student into an emotional frenzy. These techniques will help students to overcome the challenges they will face during these terrifying days.

1. Go for a short walk an hour or two before you have a test

Exercise is a great way to distract the mind from stress and improve your memory. It helps if you are walking to get lunch or you are going to the library or another class with someone. Having a conversation with friends about their major and the exam you have that day is beneficial. Talking not only only keeps you focused, but you might learn something from your friends, and they could possibly have advice for you when it comes to preparing for exams.

2. Take frequent 10-minute breaks

When studying for an important test, it is crucial that you take a break after every 45 minutes to an hour of reading or writing something. Even if you are in a study group, leaving to get food, use the bathroom, or just standing up to stretch is good for your mind and body. Make sure the meals you eat are healthy to increase memory retention. Doing a quick 10-minute workout is another method to strengthen your mind.

3. Put on some calming music or perform other small tasks

While studying alone for a midterm or test, putting on soft music while you are reading will help you to stay calm during your study session. When taking a break, doing other activities like cleaning your dorm room, doing yoga, or meditation are other ways to keep your mind focused. Switching up your methods or moving to a place where you can study without any distractions is a priority to achieving success.

4. Watch a Netflix documentary related to the subject

Although television is a distraction from your studies, it might be useful to search on Netflix for an interesting documentary about the exam topic. This is especially great if you are majoring in business, health science, criminal justice, or history. You will hear about all the information related to your test within a few hours. Unlike a lecture, you can pause and leave to get a snack or go to the bathroom without missing anything. As a bonus, if you have to write an essay, you can mention the documentary and reference some facts and other useful information you learned.

5. Make flashcards

One of the best ways to help retain information fast is creating flashcards. Either buy the cards yourself or use a study app. Fill the cards with key terms, facts, essay topic ideas, famous quotes, math problems, or science formulas as something to review (or practice with friends) while studying for an exam.

6. Try making a mind map

If you are having difficulty organizing and summarizing ideas that you have for a topic you are studying, creating a mind map is a unique strategy. Mind maps can be created on paper or by using a computer. This is a simple way to understand material that will be on an exam. Include visuals, words, and ideas, which may help you to remember information.

7. Create a study schedule

During the weeks that students are having midterms, it is challenging trying to balance school and social life. One solution is to make a schedule dedicated to studying for your exams. Mark down on a calendar (or your phone) the times that you have free to study. Putting at least two hours of work a day to prepare for exams will increase your chances of success.

8. Find a secluded place for studying

Another great way to make sure you are retaining the information you are studying is finding a quiet and comfortable area for reading and writing. By relocating yourself to a location you feel relaxed in, the chances of doing better on exams will increase. Make sure that the place is clear of any distractions like televisions, electronic devices (unless you need to use a computer), and loud noises. Some of the best spots can be your dorm room or a reserved spot in the library.

9. Do practice exams

If you want to get in some extra practice for an exam, trying looking on websites or use apps that have quizzes related to your test. Find questions with multiple choice, true or false, short answer, or math problems. Checking your textbook for examples is another good option. This will prepare you for any possible questions that you might see on your exam.

10. Review exam material before going to sleep

When studying for an important exam, try to get some reading done around one or two hours before going to sleep each night. Reading over material or doing some practice questions before going to bed will help you retain information. This is a method known as sleep-learning, and it is effective for college students. While your body is recovering, the brain is processing information during sleep, which means that everything you learned will be stored in your long-term memory.

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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It's Time For You High Schoolers To Invest Your Time Into Your Careers

It may seem too early to specialize, but there will be a point where it's too late.

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If you're in high school, odds are you're approached by friends, family and more family about your plans after. For many of us, this can mean college. From convincing a college to admit you to convincing them to foot your entire tuition bill, you need to be marketable.

You should start with writing out your resume. Write it specifically oriented towards your career path. My resume, for example, is music themed. If you are anything like younger me, you might have a couple things that fit. I had marching band, concert band, honor band. But the majority might be things you signed up for to round yourself out.

A candidate too well rounded is directionless.

My participation in science club was fun, I will admit. But it didn't do much for me. It didn't teach me leadership, nor cooperation nor did it help with my career path.

High school is a lot more limited a time to both express and market yourself than you might think. Before I knew it, I was sitting in my junior year without much to my musical name.

If you have an extra curricular that you participate in because you enjoy it, you don't have to drop it. If you have developed as a person or as a leader, then it might even be something you can include in your list.

I just want to caution people from getting into the same situation I was in. I spent the first three years essentially of high school to feel out different areas, and this was too much time.

Productive uses of your after school time should be things you talk about when you say what sets you apart from other students in your field. And yes, this means you have to utilize tools outside of your school offerings most of the time.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing my participation in Atlanta CV (professional drum corps in DCA), high school marching band and marching band leadership, MAYWE (Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, an auditioned honor band), GYSO (Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra), AYWS (Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony), Youth Bands of Atlanta, county honor band, jazz band, twice state applicant for Governor's Honors Program Music, JanFest music at UGA, the Academy of Science, Research and Medicine (Biotechnology certification and science fair), math bowl and HOSA - Future Health Professionals.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing the most relevant activities as well as the ones I've chosen to regardless stick with. Relevant activities in regard to my music major include honor ensembles and marching activities.

My most applicable activities for music include marching bands. I am a contracted baritone marcher of Atlanta CV Drum and Bugle Corps as well as trombone marcher and two year Trombone/Baritone Section Leader for the Pride of Paulding marching band. These show relevancy because these organizations provide rapport as well as the marching activity in itself shows another level of musical capability.

My honor ensembles are relevant likewise because they show higher musical skill and provide some legitimacy to your path. I have been involved in Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, county honor band, jazz band and I was also a Two-Time State Applicant to the Governor's Honors Program.

I plan to also be with the Symphony of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, Youth Bands of Atlanta and JanFest at UGA. Auditions are coming up for each of these and I hope to be considered for membership. These would round out my music application by showing versatility (via orchestra along with wind ensembles) and more time dedication. Both universities and employers value this level of hard work.

Of course, even I on my soapbox have some activities I've stuck with despite it not being directly related to music. Despite this, you can make them relevant by touting your experience with it. I've been an officer and competitor for our chapter of HOSA - Future Health Professionals despite not going into healthcare and I've been certified in Biotechnology through my school The Academy of Science, Research and Medicine despite not going into STEM.

My experiences in biotechnology and healthcare have provided me a round academic experience, more high rigor classes and leadership opportunities. I was co-treasurer of our HOSA chapter and my Magnet school gave me access to more AP classes and the biotechnology classes. Anything can be useful, but the extent is determined by its relevancy.

The vast majority of my activities are both outside of the school and directly related to my career path. Activities such as these can make any student automatically more competitive than an equally academically-standing student.

Finding these activities involve a combination of involving teachers and mentors in your career field as well as self research. Luckily for me, I was able to fairly quickly compile a list of Honor Bands to audition for due to the abundance in the area. My directors also named a few. Most areas should have something at least tangentially-related to your specialization.

Some opportunities require knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. For example, my involvement in one of my most valuable activity assets, Atlanta CV, was a result of knowing a guy that knew a guy that knew about an opening for the right instrument halfway through spring training.

What I hope readers gain from my story is to start early. I've found myself struggling to meet the market's standards in the last year of high school immediately before applying for college. Specializing would have been more effective a tad bit longer term and I hope others take my heed.

Moving on from high school can be an intimidating process. It's hard to find the right college, and even harder to convince them they want you. Harder still is convincing them to pay for your education. But all this can be made easier by specializing and becoming marketable.

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