When it's 4 a.m. and the Langsam Library floor has never looked comfier, you know what week it is. The last week before winter break, every creature was stirring, even the desktop mouse. Awake are the desperate crammers, the professional procrastinators, and the chronic overachievers. There's a frantic buzz of studying and test-taking in the air mingling with the scent of coffee. Before you have your next scheduled mental breakdown, here are a few tips on how to stay sane during this season.
1. Create a study schedule.
This means looking ahead at your calendar and planning out what times you have to study for which exams. It doesn't have to be written out in a fancy planner (unless you're THAT person... aka me). It can literally be as simple as a day-by-day breakdown on a page torn from your notebook or a saved note on your phone. This will keep you from feeling too overwhelmed trying to think about five different tests at once since you have everything laid out in front of you. It also allows you to then schedule in free time as well, something you shouldn't neglect this week. Seriously, take the 10 minutes to plan. You will thank yourself later.
2. Eliminate distractions.
I'm definitely guilty of using my designated "study hour" to scroll through every app I have on my phone or watch way too many episodes of a show on Netflix. Discipline yourself to put your phone away or set social media limits for yourself. You can live without staying updated on your feed for a few days. Eliminating distractions can also mean choosing a different environment to work in. If you can't stay focused in your dorm room, reserve a study space in the library or head to a local coffee shop. My favorite question to ask upperclassmen is their best study spots on and around campus.
3. Study smarter, not harder.
Use all the resources at your disposal. If your professor or TA offers a study session, make it a priority to go. Start reviewing your notes as early as possible and if you have any questions, reach out to get the answers. If there's a study guide available, fill it out. Try to combat passive studying by taking study breaks and utilizing different methods of processing information. Flashcards (or Quizlet!), whiteboards (helpful for long equations!), and re-writing notes (with color-coding) can all help. If you work better with friends, then get a study group to go over the material together. Being able to successfully explain a concept to someone else is typically a good sign that you have mastery over it.
4. Eat & Exercise.
Supplying your body with healthy food will help your brain perform at its capacity. Avoid the urge to munch on vending machine snacks... the quick calories of processed carbohydrates won't satisfy those hunger pangs for long. Eat as many whole grains, lean proteins, and fresh vegetables as you can. Also, putting your notecards aside to head to the gym is a smart move that is proven to boost your brain power and reduce stress. "Physiologically, the benefits reaped from at least 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, such as running, biking, or training on the elliptical machine, can last for up to 12 hours, according to Dr. Leavis, associate professor of physiology at Tufts University School of Medicine and senior scientist at Boston Biomedical Research Institute."
I know it seems impossible, but if you stick to your schedule, you should have enough time to get a good night's rest. Tired brains do not recall information well and no one wants to accidentally sleep through their 8 a.m. final because they stayed up too late studying for it.