By Laura Evans
Sleep. Make sure that you get sufficient sleep (7 to 8 hours but not more) each night approaching and during finals. Pulling all-nighters to study is never a good idea, nor is binge-studying, or studying for untold hours for one test. A little napping never hurts, either —just 20 minutes or so at a pop.
Study in different places, not just one. Research from experimental and cognitive psychology reveals that learning in different places allows us to call on a variety of cues that will help us remember what we learned. Studying in one place doesn’t allow for any cue-generalization.
Break up and spread out your studies. Don’t study for hours and hours for one course’s exam. Study for a while for one course and then, when you are losing focus, switch to another course, Go back to the first one later and repeat the switching process.
Eat. Make sure to eat well before and during finals—not too much junk or fast food. Eat with friends, as a little socialising will relax you and your mind. Wolfing down a quick meal and then racing back to your desk or library is less helpful than some relaxation and conversation before getting back to your work.
Exercise. Make time for exercise—not too much time, perhaps, because you should be studying most of the time—but some time to unwind is a good idea. The break in your study routine will help you rejuvenate and get back at it.
Don’t go partying the night before a final exam. This is self-explanatory.
Study groups are fine—to a point. If you study with friends, make sure that there are definitive start and finish times. Otherwise, an open-ended study session can quickly devolve into wasted time and gossiping. Hey, I like gossip—just build in time at the end of the hour or two for that.
If you think you tanked on one of your exams, forget it. I’m not saying that it’s OK to do poorly on a test, rather I’m saying that the die is cast—once the test is done, worrying about the outcome is silly. It’s already decided. Focus on your next test, one where you still have some control over the outcome