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How to Prepare for Midterms and Final Exams Studying Tips

Updated on May 26, 2015

Best Studying Methods and Strategies

Here you will find great tips and strategies for studying for midterms and final exams. They're very simple and easy to follow and will help boost your exam marks.

Every student gets stressed out during exams. Its not surprising. Theres so much to do and remember and there never seems to be enough time in the day. Everyone has different strategies for studying, different methods that work best for them. The sooner you figure out what studying methods are good for you, the better you'll do.

College and University exams are a lot different from high school exams. Theres more to learn and the material is a lot more in depth. Plus, most students live away from home, and its often difficult to find a balance between school work and a social life. Roommates and dorm mates can make the balance even harder, because even when you want to study, they might not be interested.

I spent a lot of time in university trying to figure out how to prepare for exams. A lot of it is trial and error. What works for one person might not work for someone else. But there are some methods that should be effective for most people. The real trick is actually implementing these strategies. But, if you stick with it, you can succeed in your studying efforts! Read on to learn some key methods for success in studying for midterms and final exams.

Image by Lucy Toner from Public Domain

Study Tip #1: Get Enough Sleep

My first tip for effective studying is probably the most obvious. It’s also probably the hardest to accomplish. Quite simply, you need to get enough sleep each night. I know, I know, this is much easier said than done. But really, if you’re only getting 4-5 hours of sleep each night, how much studying are you really going to get done? And will any of it be quality studying?

Ideally, you should aim for 8-9 hours a night, but I know this isn’t always realistic. There’s just too much to do to prepare for exams. If you’re really stuck on time, try to make sure you still get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. You might have a bit less time for studying, but you will remember a lot more of the material that you do get through.

Study Tip #2: Eat Healthy During Exam Time

Brain food is a must to prepare for exams

You've heard it time and time again. Eat your fruits and veggies. Don't eat junk food. Well, unfortunately, it's all true. It might seem easier (and yummier) to munch on a bag of chips or some cookies while you study, but these are just going to make you lethargic. You can treat yourself to a bit of junk food, but make sure most of what you eat is brain food. You'll be much better prepared for your finals this way.

Raw veggies are the best option. Broccoli is one of the most well known brain foods. Eating raw broccoli during study sessions will help you work better and remember more. Not everyone likes broccoli, especially raw, so here's a few other great brain foods:

Blueberries

Pumpkin seeds

Blackcurrants

Bananas

Fish (Specifically, oily fish, especially salmon and trout. If you don't like cooking, try canned salmon.)

Wholegrains (brown pasta and wheatbran)

Nuts (including peanut butter)

Dark chocolate

Most of these foods require little to no preparation, so there's no excuse to avoid them! Be careful about the chocolate, because it has a lot of sugar, which can give you a quick high and then make you crash. But it's great for a treat and a brain boost if you have it in moderation.

Brain Food Smoothie Recipe

2 bananas

1-2 cups milk

1-2 tablespoons peanut butter

1-2 teaspoons coca

Put all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Pour into large glass and drink!

Play around with the measurements until you find a consistency you like. Go easy on the peanut butter at first because it makes the drink pretty rich.

Oster Reverse Crush Counterforms Blender, with 6-Cup Glass Jar, 7-Speed Settings and Brushed Stainless Steel/Black Finish
Oster Reverse Crush Counterforms Blender, with 6-Cup Glass Jar, 7-Speed Settings and Brushed Stainless Steel/Black Finish

If you don't already have a blender, it's a college necessity. Smoothies are a perfect food when you're busy with school because they're fast, easy, and healthy. There's endless possibilities of what you can make with them and sometimes you can sneak in something you don't really like and not even taste it, but still get the health benefits. And of course, if you want to make Pina Coladas or Daiquiris during your time off, you'll need a blender for those, too!

 

Study Tip #3: Drink Lots of Water

Not just coffee!

I'm as bad as anyone for drinking tons of coffee and not enough water, especially when I was studying for finals. And I certainly am not saying to not drink any coffee. But set a limit for yourself and stick to it.

Try to drink 2 liters of water a day. It does wonders for your mental alertness! As an added bonus, it's free, and what student doesn't love to save money?

Tea is a good alternative if you're having trouble sticking with just water, or if you like to sip on a hot drink when you're studying. Tea is essentially water and won't make you crash the same way coffee will.

Image from Public Domain

While you should moderate how much coffee you have, you certainly want to have some. I always find it more motivating to work when I have a fun and funky mug to keep me company. And, remember to have lots of water, too. If you're heading to the library, a water bottle is a must.

Study Tip #4: Find a Good Study Spot

Key to preparing for exams

It’s hard to find the perfect spot to study for exams. You probably have either a roommate or dorm mates whose schedules are different from yours. Even if they’re dedicated students, their study times will be different, and this can be very distracting. Or, you might find yourself trying to prepare for exams, but getting distracted by your computer, household chores, or the ever so inviting bed. The best thing you can do for yourself is find a good study spot that’s away from where you live.

I found the study carols in the library on campus to be the best study spot. Actually, I often wish I still lived in the same city so I could go back there to do work. Study carols are semi private, so you don’t feel like everyone is watching you, but they’re not isolated, so you still feel some pressure to work instead of daydream or nap. They’re usually quiet, but they aren’t Unabomber quiet, which helps to keep you awake. For me, it was best to find a study carol that was off to the side or one end of the room so there was less movement around me.

Even if study carols aren’t for you, it’s essential to find the right spot to study. If you are constantly distracted, you won’t ever get through the work you need to prepare for exams. Other possible study locations are a coffee house, a friend’s house (you can motivate each other to stay on task), or a different corner or nook of the library. (Seriously, the library is your friend. Get to know it!)

Try to find a study spot that is away from where you will eat. You need a change of scenery sometimes, so you can go back to studying feeling refreshed. Even if you just take 15 minutes away somewhere to eat a quick sandwich, making sure it’s in a different location from where you’re working is ideal.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones

Whether you're trying to study at home with roommates around or your library isn't quite as quiet as you'd like, noise cancelling headphones can be a lifesaver when you're trying to study for exams. If you don't already have a pair, you might want to consider investing in them.

 

Study Tip #5: Don't Study in Bed

Going back to finding the perfect study spot, DON'T study in bed. For one thing, it will make you tired and you're less likely to remember what you studied on the exam. You can easily end up falling asleep and wasting valuable time.

Also, your brain will start to associate your bed with work, which will make it harder to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep will suffer, making you tired for the next day's study session.

If you really need to stay in your room to study, work at your desk or even on the floor, but not your bed.

Image by Raanask used under Creative Commons Licence

Study Tip #6: Make Sure Your Notes Are Legible

It’s hard to study from messy notes. You spend valuable time and effort trying to decipher what you wrote weeks ago. In preparation for studying, make sure your notes are legible. This might mean rewriting them. But, make sure you rewrite them within a day or two of when you first made them. If you wait till it’s time to study for exams, you’ll spend a lot of time working on this (trust me), and lose study time. Also, if you rewrite them shortly after each class, it will help solidify the material and concepts right off the bat.

Post It Notes

Sometimes the hardest part of studying for midterms and finals can be to keep yourself motivated. These cute and colorful sticky notes will keep your attention and help your most important notes to stand out when you go back to review. They're also a great way to remind yourself of group study sessions, due dates, or any other important information. Everyone has sticky notes, but help keep yourself motivated with unique sticky notes.

Study Tip #7: Create or Join a Study Group

I don't necessarily mean that you need to get together with a group in order to study. I am more referring to notes. Organize (or participate in) a study group in your class where people collaborate to create notes from the textbook.

Each person is assigned one chapter or reading and makes notes for that chapter. Then everyone emails the notes to the leader, who sends them out to the whole group.

Voila! You spend a couple of hours making notes for a single chapter or reading, and suddenly you have a whole semester's worth of textbook study notes!

It's the perfect and time efficient way to prepare for your exam. These groups were a lifesaver for me since a lot of my courses relied on textbook readings. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Image from Public Domain

Study Tip #8: Set Study Times and Stick to Them

This is probably the hardest study strategy to accomplish (at least for me). It’s critical to stick to the study times you plan for yourself. Once you slack off, you’ll keep doing it until you eventually are studying at random times, which probably means you’re not getting good quality studying done.

This is when finding a good spot in the library is gold, because it eliminates distractions. Of course, sometimes life gets in the way. Accept it and move on. Stick to your study schedule as much as you can and when you do need to veer off of it, make sure it’s for a good reason.

One Final Tip...

Last, but most definitely not least...STOP PROCRASTINATING!

Let's face it. You're probably on this site because you're procrastinating studying. I know because I used to do the same thing. So, the best possible way you can prepare for exams is to simply get off this site and get to work. (Although, I won't argue if you want to leave a comment, first!)

Did you find these studying methods helpful? Do you have a studying tip you want to share? Let me know here!

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    • Stephanie36 profile image
      Author

      Stephanie 3 years ago from Canada

      @Charito1962: Thank you! A lot of them are common sense, but it's easy to fall into bad habits. Starting off with good study habits is the best thing he could do. :)

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Great tips! I think I'll let my son read this lens. He's entering college this June.

    • Stephanie36 profile image
      Author

      Stephanie 3 years ago from Canada

      @RoadMonkey: Thank you for visiting! Yes, the study groups were a great help during finals. A lot of my courses were reading heavy, so having those chapter summaries were wonderful. It would be great if schools offered some lectures in study tips! It would help so many students.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 years ago

      Some great tips. I wish I had known about these when I was doing my first degree. I especially like your idea of the "Study Group". When I was doing my undergrad degree, one of our group was always talking about the last lecture, whenever we went for a break or coffee. I used to resent it at first but then realised just how useful it was! I really think that universities should provide lectures in just this stuff for new students. It still isn't widely enough known.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      My ideal study spot is my college library where I can study in silence. I am 100% agree with you Stephanie that we should sleep more than 5 hour I personally sleep 5 to 6 hours at night and 1 or two hour at evening and it's well enough for me.

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 3 years ago

      I was lucky and my roommate was a stickler for studying so this helped me. I agree with your suggestion on not studying on your bed whenever I tried I fell asleep. Great work!

    • profile image

      jimporsche86 3 years ago

      My wife is in collage now and is having a pretty tough time with it.

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