Study smarter, not harder

Weaponizing study techniques for finals

Exam season occurs twice every school year, and it is typically during these periods of year where most students are either stressed, burnt out, hopeless, or a combination of all three. 

   Rather than succumbing to the feeling of being helpless from the belief that you will not do well on your final exams, diminish any uncertainty and train yourself to become a top-notch academic weapon. 

   While confidence may be key, there is a lot of work that is applied behind the scenes to help build that confidence. When final exams roll around early next month, it is going to benefit your grades and your mental wellbeing if the preparation for those exams starts early. Procrastinating might be a useful tool for some individuals, but it, without a doubt, adds loads of stress to the respective individual who is the procrastinator. 

   By starting to study early, an individual is sure to be prepared for any exam, and more confident in themselves and what they are capable of. 

   For many students, it is relatively easy to see studying as a fruitless effort that yields an inevitable failing grade. However, simply changing that negative mindset is half the work needed in order to be proficient in the art of studying. 

   There are many different study techniques available, and it is obvious that one method does not fit the needs of everybody. However, by trying out a few of the following study techniques, you may discover one that works for you that will help you crush your upcoming final exams. 

   Before using the process of elimination to discover the study method that works for you, it is crucial to set the scene. Location and time of the day play a vital role in directing how efficient a study session will be. 

   Some students prefer to study with music, while some prefer not to. Similarly, some students prefer a bustling environment with background noise, like a coffee shop, while others prefer an environment with complete silence and no distractions. Regardless of what you prefer, picking the right environment for you is the factor that sets the stage for how proficient your study session will be. 

   “Find several places to study in and around campus and change up your space if you find that it is no longer a working space for you. Know when and where you study best,” the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Learning Center website advised.

   After getting settled into your quintessential learning environment, it is time to decide whether you prefer working by yourself or with a few peers. Having friends or classmates can either be a blessing or a curse, typically with no intermediate. Studying with a group of people can sometimes boost productivity, or it can lead to long periods of distraction and a lack of focus. 

   If studying with a group of people, it would be wise to ensure that your group does not consist of too many people, and that everyone has a clear, common goal. 

   Following this, the time has now come to decide the study technique that works for you. Some people might discover that they need to adopt the use of more than one technique, and needless to say this is completely valid. While there are countless methods up for grabs, the following methods are some of the most tried, true, and approved techniques. 

   The Pomodoro technique is perhaps the most simple approach to studying, and the only things it requires is a timer and the material needing to be studied. To conduct this technique, someone would need to pick two amounts of time, one longer than the other. The longer amount of time is allotted for deep focus studying, and the shorter amount of time is assigned to break time. By using this method, you are not only able to keep track of how long you have been studying, but you are also able to hold yourself accountable to ensure you are actively studying for an acceptable amount of time. 

   Spaced Repetition is another fairly simple technique that abides by one simple rule: to space out your study sessions over a vast amount of time. This method is perfect for those who “cram” the night before the test, and figure out that their procrastination dug themselves an inescapable hole. 

   “By repeated exposures to a piece of information at increasing intervals between each repetition, we can optimize memorization and retain the most information in the least amount of time. Spaced repetition is most powerful when the timing is just right,” Med School Insider website contributor, Kevin Jubbal, M.D. described. 

   The Active Recall technique — also known as the SQR3 method — is somewhat new in the studying scene, and it can be executed by following a stepwise system. First, an individual needs to skim the material that they are attempting to learn and write down any questions they may have regarding that material. Then, they need to actively read and research to disclose the answers to the questions they have. Next, the individual would need to close their notes and attempt to recall as much information as possible on a blank sheet of paper, and once complete, they refer to their starting materials to see what they may have missed. Finally, they review what they have missed, and repeat the process until every focal point has been committed to memory. 

   Flashcards are a highly underrated studying method. Digital flashcards are quite popular in this generation, nonetheless physical paper flashcards still pack a mighty punch. One side of the flashcard asks a question while the other side displays the answer to the question. The flashcard method promotes rapid memorization, feasibly making it one of the most practiced study techniques. 

   The One-Pager technique is conceivably one of the most stress free studying techniques. To execute this method, an individual would read through their notes, and essentially rewrite them into condensed versions that can legibly fit on one side of a standard piece of computer paper. This approach will yield a single sheet of paper that can be used as a condensed study sheet with a summary of all the concepts that are need-to-know. 

   One of the final — yet most important — tips to become a proactive, well-studied, academic-weapon, is to take care of your body’s physical health and needs. It may not seem effective, but the night before an exam it is ideal to get from six to eight hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep. 

   Moreover, in the days leading up to the exam and the morning before, it is important that your body is fueled with good meals and plenty of hydrating fluids to keep the brain functioning optimally. 

   For more information on tried-and-true study techniques to transform yourself into the ultimate academic weapon, please visit and