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Seven Secrets To Help You Ace Your Next Final Exam

April 2, 2012

By Nayarit Mclaren, Chief Community Officer

Crunch time, as high school students like to call it, is the last two or so weeks before the finals exams or any test. This is when students finally realize that they had better get in gear and be prepared to sit down and crank out some serious studying. Some serious work needs to be done, but luckily there are some secret tips that can help student study more efficiently. So what are the secrets and how do you study for finals?

Secret #1: Study

While this may not seem like a secret and may seem like a no brainer to just about anyone who reads this article, there are people who do not study for their finals. They expect somehow to do miraculously well on something that they are completely unprepared for. Granted, there are some prodigies out there in the world who can ace finals without studying for them, but those students are far and few between.  Either way a prodigy who studies will be much better and have more options in their lives as a result. Seriously, STUDY!! Everyone has their own study habits, so use whatever works. Hard work and working smartly is rewarded in the end.

Secret #2: Do Not Procrastinate

Start studying early and often. Ideally, students should be studying the entire semester for campus and online schools and actively learning the material, but everyone doesn’t do what is best. If you are one of these students, you need at least 2 weeks to cram everything into your brain for the big day. For everyone else, study every day until the material is mastered. Finals only cover so much. The more time that you spend studying, the higher grade you will earn. This is a simple concept, but I run into soooooo many people who think that studying is a waste of time. Logically, the more time you have to study, the more studying you will do, which will lead you to a higher grade.

Secret #3: Don’t Make Yourself Crazy

Although it is important to study, that should not be all that you do during the day. Take some time out to exercise for an hour or go out to lunch/dinner. You will learn more efficiently with breaks in between your studying about every 45 minutes and your brain certainly will feel better. However, I advise that you avoid Facebook, during your free time. We all know that a few minutes on Facebook can soon turn into an hour or more. You would be best to avoid Facebook altogether until you are completely done studying for the day. Make sure to take breaks, just not for Facebook.

Secret #4: Eat

Well this might seem simplistic as well, but you need to eat in order to study well. If you are on a diet, forget it during the exam weeks, and eat healthy foods that make you comfortable and relaxed. It is never a good idea to eat an entire carton of ice cream, but you get the idea. Most importantly, eat a good breakfast/lunch right before taking the test. Your brain functions better when there is food in your stomach.

Secret #5: Do Not Re-Read the Textbook

This is the worst thing that you could do right before a test. It is a complete waste of time. You will (A) fill your brain with a ton of new information right before the test and (B) not retain any of that information. It also takes a lot of time to re-read the book, so just don’t do it. So what to do then? -Read the chapter summaries if available, definitely re-read notes, and take a glance at any charts, pictures, or maps that might be in your textbook to identify key points. This will take about 1/4 of the time that it takes to reread the textbook and it will be more effective. I even recommend buying a review test prep book or working with a tutor. For high school classes, there are AP review books and SAT II books that are very useful. Read these if you want, just do not re-read the textbook.

Secret #6: Do Not Study for a Test Right before Taking It (optional)

This tip is more a matter of personal preference, but I think that studying right before a final is counter-productive. I find that many perform better on finals when they DO NOT study extensively the night before or right before in the morning. I try to finish my studying a few hours before I go to sleep, so that I can clear my mind, relax, and get a good night’s sleep (free of numbers, calculations, facts, maps, etc…). I also get stressed out if I study the morning of a final, because I feel like I do not know the material well enough. There is no worse feeling than walking into a final and feeling like you do not know the material. Feel confident in your knowledge of the subject and then dedicate some time to rest and relaxation.

Secret #7: Sleep

We all perform well when properly rested. Unfortunately, high school students, especially AP and IB students are in a constant cycle of sleep deprivation. Despite this, it is important to get a good night’s sleep before taking finals. It has been scientifically proven that humans are more productive after a good rest. Make time to sleep; you will test better if you sacrifice some of your studying for sleep. Do not underestimate the power of rest.

There will always be tests that you need to ace to succeed, it is just a fact of life. Learn these secrets well and you will find finals a bit easier.

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