• Savannah Caldwell

Tricks and Tips to Ace This School Year!

Written by Savannah Caldwell

As we move away from the trick or treat season, we have some tricks and tips for you! Midterm and exam season is never fun. It’s always stressful, incredibly busy, and we often have no time to think about anything other than school. Today we have a few different tips and tricks on how to procrastinate less, study smarter, and prepare for exam times!                                         

It all starts with the environment we are in. Not feeling good in an area that we need to be in makes us not want to stay there or be in a good mood. Having a clean and personalized study space is one of the best tips! This could just be your room or your desk, but the more you love the place you study, the more you will enjoy and want to be there. If you are sitting at a desk full of loose papers, books, etc. you will just be thinking about how the area sucks and you need to clean. However, if your desk/room is clean and has some decor or nice pictures on the wall, you enjoy the space much more and want to be there which translates into your work.

Every university student pulls the classic move of completing an entire assignment the day of or hours before it's due, for most of us I feel it's safe to assume this is a pretty regular thing, but this tip helps avoid that! Make your assignments 'due' 3-5 days in advance, depending on how much time you have to play with. If you make yourself believe something is due on a specific day, then you will have the motivation to do it as you do the night of the due date! The bonus is, if you happen to not have enough time or just get busy then you have a few extra days to keep going and finish that you didn't plan to have! Personally, I use this every week and I find it really helps. I tend to have things due on the weekend which is when I have work. So I set all assignments due on the weekend or following Monday for Friday so that I space myself out and am not leaving everything for the same day! 

Periodic breaks are a great way to keep focused as well! Try working for 40 minutes, then taking a break for 5-10 minutes, and getting right back into studying. Repeat this 2-3 times and then take a 20-30 minute break and start again. This is actually quite helpful because we all know that as soon as we start working, we want to get up and do something else. This way, we give ourselves the breaks we want as a reward for having done some work. But this only works if you stick to the minutes! If you say, 'just 5 more minutes' (which I am quite guilty of) during your break, it’s much harder to get back into working. This method is great for keeping you focused on your work. You can even change the time duration of working and breaks, depending on how you work best. It’s versatile and quite effective! 

Speaking of having breaks as ‘rewards’ for working, another method to use as motivation is to have a reward for when you finish what you’re working on. Having candy or a chocolate bar that you really want just sitting at the edge of your desk mocking you for not being done will give you the motivation to keep going! You could even use tasks as a reward by deciding that once you're finished the assignment, you’ll go to the gym, watch a movie, or go to the mall. Anything that you enjoy doing and will motivate you to work. This helps with your motivation but also to work faster depending on how badly you want that reward!

In terms of actually taking in what you’re studying or learning, completing sample tests or extra questions are really helpful. They make sure that you’re fully understanding what you’re working on from every angle. They also help prepare you for any tests or assignments you could have. Studying in groups can be helpful too. Sometimes, it helps to talk things through with someone. Try to teach someone else a topic, this helps you understand better and see the areas in which you need to work on a little more or the areas that you’re very familiar with. You can see where you need to focus your energy much clearer. 

Studying multiple times is really helpful as well! It’s much more effective to study on 3 different occasions than just once for a longer period. Cramming might seem like a great or effective idea, but you take things in better when you revisit the subject multiple times. The more times you come back to an idea shows what you still remember from the time before and the things that you don’t, displaying what to focus on. Studying everything all in one day and then taking a test, you don’t know what will really stick when it comes to applying what you’ve learned. There is also the chance that you will only remember a bunch of broad concepts and not know topics as thoroughly as needed. 

When it comes to distractions, we can all agree that our phones are the biggest things to get in the way. There are apps that you can get to help you keep focused, one called Flora actually plants trees if you stick to the complete timer for studying. If you REALLY need the motivation, you can even set up a timer that if you go on anything before it’s up, you have to pay a set amount chosen by you. Now that would be some hardcore dedication! Another way is on iPhones, I'm sure other phones have this ability as well, you can set downtime on your apps for a period of time where the apps you choose to include can't be accessed and requires a password to get into them before the time is up. This way, you can still have your phone on and facing up but you get fewer notifications to distract you. Of course, you can put the password in, but it keeps you aware and makes you think more about the time you spend on apps and the breaks you take. 

Hopefully, some of these tips and tricks help you out this school year! Good luck with your midterms and exams Sprotties!!