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How to Study: Protips for the Stressed Out Student

Updated on December 10, 2015

Midterms. Finals. Overdue assignments.

Like many students, you’ll be searching in confusion through your horribly written notes in panic, hoping and praying that what you paid attention to will actually appear on the test. Or, worse, hoping you read enough of the assigned reading to at least get a passing grade.

This is the moment, every semester, that sets the good students apart from the bad ones. This is the moment that determines whether or not you’ll make it to the end of term—and whether or not your parents will be receiving the dreaded pink slip of academic failure.

It’s a traumatic experience, to be sure. And worse, even when you attend class every day and take careful notes, sometimes the exams seem to be written in a foreign language.

Now, I don’t exactly have a cure for this time in your life, but I do have a few simple tips and helpful websites that will help you to become a less-stressed college student.

Number One: Good Study Habits

I know, but you knew it was the most important, right? Well, even those so often quoted studies have shown that students who take good notes while in class and then spend a moment each week going over what was learned in each class will have higher retention rates when test time comes.

Number Two: Get Enough Sleep

I know this is a tough one, but it helps for health reasons too. A tired student will be more cranky, less likely to remember a lecture, and will have a tougher time reading the assignments. They’ll also get sick more often and might miss important classes. So, rest up.

No, seriously. Turn off the Netflix and actually make sure you get a full eight hours. It'll make a world of difference for the amount of information you retain and your overall mental (and physical!) health.

Number Three: Remember to Laugh

Life is funny, awful, tragic, and everything in between. If the pressure is getting to you, a little laughter can do a world of good.

Just do it.

Number Four: Keep in Touch with Family and Friends

I don’t mean that you should socialize every night at the local bar, but you have to vent from time to time with your best friends. And let others know how you’re doing in school. This gives you more motivation to do good work and lets you know that others care about your success. It also removes the pressure of having to go at it alone. So, call your mom and let her know how you’re doing. She'll be happy you called.

Number Five: Learn to Relax

This is hard for most of us. Find scented candles that you like and take a bubble bath once a week, read a book that isn’t for school, or allow yourself time to just vegg in front of the TV without worry. Play video games, whatever it takes to take your mind off Calculus for a few hours. Take this time to NOT think about school. This lets your body and mind recharge and you’ll have more energy to finish homework and take tests.

Helpful Websites


We all have to read Shakespeare at one point or another, but he’s even confusing for English majors who spend hours debating the supernatural elements in “Macbeth.” offers free analysis of all of Shakespeare’s works including a detailed biography of every major event in his life.


This little gem is just like Cliff’s Notes—only it’s free and entirely online. They offer literary analysis on all the classics as well as quick quotes and symbolic interpretations. You’ll also find character analysis and study guides.


All those papers that require multiple secondary sources, yeah, Questia has you covered with hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed journals, books, magazines, and newspaper articles. It's a subscription service but well worth the price.


This one is essential with all kinds of conversion calculators, chemistry tools, and handy flash cards for all the major subjects.


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