Throughout my high school career, I would help a lot of my friends study. Considering that Finals season is upon us, I figured I would share a couple of my most useful study strategies!
1. Your environment matters.
I try not to study in my dorm. My dorm is supposed to be a sanctuary away from schoolwork - a place where I can relax. However, when the crazy cold rain keeps me bundled up inside of my dorm, I try to make my room as organized as possible. I tend to stay more focused, productive, and drive if my environment is clean.
When I don't study in my dorm, I try to switch up locations. I tend to get bored of the same location, so I usually spend about 2 hours studying in a single place before moving on. At Trinity, I really like to study in the library by the windows, but on a nice day, I study on the CSI or Northup balconies. I try to get as much sunlight as possible because I notice that proximity to nature puts me in a happier mood. Happy mood = more productivity.
2. Repetition is key.
My usual pattern in studying is: write it, type it, speak it, teach it. I usually rewrite my notes in the back of my notebook, then type those notes up, then speak those notes out loud. For the final step, I either pretend that I am teaching a class on my notes or create a presentation with my notes. It seems like a lot of work, but if you space out the reviewing throughout the semester instead of waiting until the week of finals, it's only a few minutes a night. The constant reviewing of notes helps the information stick to your brain.
3. Don't wait until the last minute.
I cannot stress this point enough. When you are given an assignment or a test date, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! Use a planner or calendar to keep yourself organized and plan out times to work on projects. For instance, in one of my classes, we were assigned a paper at the beginning of the year that was not due until the last day of class. I would work on it periodically, creating an outline and adding notes throughout the semester. I finished this paper two weeks before the due date, while several of my classmates are scrambling to finish it in the next 48 hours. Finals season is already stressful; do not contribute to your own stress. Get it done early. Finishing assignments early also allows you to revise often and make the best possible grade.
4. Your mental and physical health are more important than grades.
While this is not a study tip, it is a fact I always try to keep in mind. I know that I will not be able to perform at my best mental capacity if I am not healthy. Therefore, I try to maintain a healthy diet, exercise routine, and sleep schedule. You will probably not find me pulling an all-nighter to finish an assignment; I schedule out my projects and work in advance to prevent last-minute scrambling. If I find myself getting overwhelmed, I will go for a walk around campus or read some scripture. If I feel tired, I will take a nap or eat a piece of fruit.
5. Use third party sources.
I absolutely adore Quizlet, Crash Course, and Khan Academy. Not only are these resources free, but they help immensely with reviewing for tests and quizzes. Paul's Online Math Notes saved my butt in calculus this semester by providing practice problems and solutions. Often, other students' Quizlets can provide different angles to the same information your class has already covered.
Other little tips:
Wear the same scented lotion / perfume when you study and when you take the test; the smell will boost your memory!
Studies have shown the chewing gum while you study increases memory
Learn your study style; some people love to work with others while other prefer to be alone; personally, I have to study alone or I won't get any work done!
Review your notes every night; it only takes a few minutes but can make a huge different in your grade!
Listen to ambient music as you study. Personally I can't concentrate if I play music with lyrics while I study, but classical violin or piano helps me study
Ask your professor for help! Professors love it when students visit their office hours and tend to boost grades if they see that the student is trying his or her best
Good luck with finals!