Catching Some Zzzzzzzzzzzzzs Will Likely Help You Net A’s and B’s

We have all heard the expression, “Get a good night’s sleep.” While this might be sound medical advice, it is also excellent academic advice. Studies have shown that students who consistently get a good night’s sleep can remember almost 20% more on tests of newly learned information than students who don’t.

Not only is regular sleep beneficial for cognition, but cat naps can also be helpful. Numerous studies have shown that even a 10-minute nap can enhance energy and concentration.

The Mishaps of Memory

How many times have you begun an exam thinking, “I’ve got
this!” and ended it muttering, “Maybe it’s not too late to drop the class…”?

Such calamities occur because of our metamemory—or how we think about our memory. In general, people are not very good at evaluating their own ability to memorize information. So essentially, we are overconfident and we think that we have
memorized information sufficiently when we really have not.

The best way to overcome this typical human error is quiz yourself on the meaning of the concepts, their relation to other concepts, and their overall context. When you start to quiz yourself like this, only then can you ascertain whether or not you have truly encoded the information.


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Enduring the Final Flurry

The collegiate equivalent of Judgment Day is here: finals.

Getting through them, however, doesn’t have to feel like divine punishment.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make the process more bearable. Some
students spend equal amounts of time preparing for each final. Instead, proportion
your study time to how difficult the final is likely to be and how well you
have mastered the material.

Another important tip is to be clear about is what materials are going to be on the final. Are text readings included, or is the final going to focus entirely on lecture material? Will it be comprehensive or cumulative final? Knowing the range—and the limits—of the final will make it easier to organize and structure your study time. Taking time to employ these tips may very well be your saving grace!


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Stupendous Study Tips for a Blissful Brain, Part III

While the idea of testing is as about as tempting as touching a tarantula, test practice on your own can yield big benefits. Research shows that when students test themselves after studying, they have a far easier time recalling the information than if they hadn’t tested themselves.

This is because retrieving information from memory improves your ability to remember it in the future. The more information you can consolidate in your memory, the more relaxed you’ll be for exam day. This way, you won’t be caught in the web of test taking anxiety!

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You’ll Be Ready for Showtime in No Time!

So you have a big exam in theater history. To get ready, you need to do a little rehearsal, but not the kind involving blocking or lighting. In order to best retain everything from Balzac to Beckett, you will need to do what is known as elaborative rehearsal. Such a strategy involves thinking about the meaning of what you study.

One of the best ways to do this is to write down the ideas in your own words. This is because when you generate information, you remember it far better than simply by recognizing it.  Try it—and when the curtain raises on exam day, your test performance will be drama-free!

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Tackling Test Anxiety

While stress-free test taking sounds about as feasible as a functional Congress, it can be done. In fact, there are several tactics you can employ to ensure you don’t have your own personal shutdown during your exam.

  • Get ahead of the game by getting a good night’s rest. When you get sufficient sleep, ultimately, you are more in control of your day. Make sure to spend your last hour awake doing relaxing activities, such as taking a bath or reading for fun. Try not to turn on your computer or watch TV, as their light mimics sunlight and confuses your body.

  • Visualize stellar test-taking performance. While it might sound like a bunch of hocus pocus, visualization can actually be quite effective because it primes you for success. Imagine yourself knowing the material and seeing that information flowing out of you and onto the exam page.

  • Don’t forget to breathe. Deep breathing is immensely helpful when we go into fight or flight mode, such as during test time. Twenty minutes before the exam, practice breathing in deeply, to the point where your belly rises and falls. Keep doing this until you feel your nerves ease up.


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Adios, Anxiety!

You are in the middle of your Spanish exam. Instead of remembering how to conjugate estar, worries are rattling around your head like maracas gone wild. Thoughts like, “I’ll never pass”, ”Why didn’t I study harder?” and “I’ll never graduate” all clamor for your attention. How on earth are you going to conjugate estar with all of this nervous chatter in your head? Fortunately, there are techniques that can help qualm such runaway thoughts.

One method is the thought-stopping technique. Imagine a red and white stop sign with eight sides. Picture the word STOP in the middle of the octagon. Now imagine hearing the word “stop” out loud, either by you or someone else. This will draw your attention away from your racing thoughts, even if just for a second. This is a way of training your brain to regain control. If you return to your racing thoughts (which you likely will), that’s okay. Simply remember the word “stop” again. With practice, you will be able to regain control of your mind. And practice makes…perfecto!

Need more tips to help beat anxiety?

Take a workshop on Avoiding Test Stress and Anxiety at The Study!



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Don’t Get Tripped up on the True-False Waltz

True-false questions can seem like a deceptively simple two-option answer. Here are a few tricks to make sure you don’t misstep:

  • As long as there is no guessing penalty, try to make an educated guess. Leaving a blank would be criminal. After all, you have a 50% chance of being right!
  • Words such as “always,” “never” and “every” indicate that a statement must be true all of the time. These types of words usually lead to an answer of “false.”
  • Words such as “sometimes,” “generally,” and “usually” mean that, depending on the situation, the statement can be true or false. Such words frequently result in an answer of “true.”
  • Most true-false tests have more true answers than false answers. So if you’re at the end of the true-false section and you feel like you bombed it, go back and count. What’s your true to false ratio? If you have more false than true answers, you may want to go back and revise the answers about which you are unsure.
  • If there is any part of a statement that is false, then the whole statement is false. HOWEVER, just because a portion of the statement is true, does not mean that the whole statement is true. Got it?

Want more helpful Test-taking Tips? Take a workshop at The Study!

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Catch Some Zzzs to Get Some A’s

We’ve all been guilty of pulling the all-nighter, but it’s actually one of the worst things you can do in terms of test performance.

If you can’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep the night before a test, try to get a minimum of three to five, so you’ll be rested enough to focus. And don’t forget to set two alarms the night before—one on your alarm clock and one on your phone.



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Mastering Multiple Choice

Multiple choice exams may not seem so challenging when compared to essay tests, but sometimes they can stump even the most studious students. Here are a few tricks that can help you improve your chances of becoming a multiple choice champ:

  • Read the ENTIRE question SLOWLY and try to come up with an answer yourself—BEFORE looking at the options. Then look down to see if your response is on the list of choices. Sometimes the answer options can plant crazy ideas in your head, if you are unsure. Go with your first gut response—that’s usually right.
  • Cross out answers you know to be incorrect.
  • For questions that have “All of the above” as an answer option, see if there are at least two correct statements. If so, “All of the above” will likely be the correct answer.
  • A positive answer choice is more likely to be correct than a negative answer choice. So when in doubt, go with the positive!
  • More often than not, the choice with the most information is the correct answer. So if you are completely unsure of an answer, choose the longest one.

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Test Prep Tip: You Just Can’t Beat a Cheat Sheet (a study sheet that is)

One of the best ways to absorb study material efficiently is to put the main formulas, concepts and key terms on one sheet.

Carry it with you and read it everywhere you go, from Starbucks to The Study. Look at the sheet until the professor tells you to put everything away and write down all of the formulas and lists you need immediately on the back of the exam. This way you won’t have to struggle to remember them during the test.


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