THE DAY BEFORE
Although most people cram the night before the test, timing is key when it comes to remembering content. As many studies have shown, memorizing content or cramming information directly before you sleep doesn’t prove to be helpful, as your short-term memory directly before sleep is very poor. De-stressing and relaxing is also important in the day prior to your final, in order to go into the exam ready but not dying of anxiety. Take time the day of and the day before to do things you enjoy rather than studying hardcore. Make sure to sleep early and eat well to feel rested!
Often times homework and other school assignments can pile up during the weeks of AP testing or other weeks with testing. Your afternoons might be spent studying and reviewing materials for your exams, while other homework is pushed to very last minute as you prioritize your assessments. As this pile gets bigger and the due date gets closer, the stress can be overwhelming. Managing your time wisely and completing any assignments earlier rather than later allows you to focus more on studying instead of rushing through minor assignments for other classes. During finals week you will likely have little to no homework, but often there are still some final projects due the week of finals, so it is helpful to complete these assignments during dead week (the week before) or in the weeks prior, in order to save time during the last week of school to both study and have fun.
EFFICIENCY AND BREAKS
One helpful method that has been proven to be efficient is splitting up your studying time in increments, or chunks: one long section of distraction-free studying followed by a much shorter break. For example, you might study for 50 minutes, then take a 10 minute break to play a short video game or watch a YouTube video—whatever helps you relax for this short period. Then, back to another 50 minutes of studying. By doing so, you can stay focused on your work and study efficiently, while not getting overworked and having a bit of time to de-stress among the studying. One suggestion is to set a timer to accurately set up these increments, in order to encourage and establish an effective, positive study pattern.
It’s really hard to not get distracted in the modern world—there are constant messages rolling in and notifications telling you to stop working and to look at your device. However, creating a distraction-free environment is key for effective and efficient studying. It’s best to completely remove yourself from your own devices so there is no incentive to use them. In the comfort of your own home, often times you feel safer and more relaxed, making it easier to get distracted. For some people, new environments prove to be more effective when studying, especially when they are completely removed from technology. This way, they don’t have anything to ‘fall back on’ when they get bored, and they won’t be distracted by the temptations of their household. Oddly enough, sometimes places with a little buzz or talking are better places for studying compared to places with absolute silence.
LISTENING TO MUSIC
Most people listen to music when they study, and many benefit from listening to certain types of music that help them focus. However, sometimes music can serve as a distraction. One way to eliminate the distraction factor while still being able to listen to music is to play the same song on repeat. When listening to songs you have never heard before, or even songs you are somewhat unfamiliar with, you are subconsciously listening for new things. You listen for the melody, the lyrics, the tune—all of which can distract you from your studying. However, when listening to one song on repeat, you aren’t listening to anything new. After a few repeats, you will likely stop noticing the song and it will blend into the background. This way, you are able to listen to music while studying without being taken away from your work.