“You shall not pass.” Students from North Dakota State University may think their professors are attempting to create the hardest cumulative final exam in recorded history. In reality, their job is to help students retain information throughout the year and some may think the best way is to assign a stress-inducing test. I know the feeling.

Studying for a test can feel like a waste of time. Many students don’t have the drive to study for hours on end, while others are successful. I’ve learned a few tricks through my three years of college and did some research that hopefully can inspire at least one student.

  1. Don’t cram. Start studying for the most stressful exams at the beginning of dead week. Something as simple as reading notes for 30 minutes can help retain the information in the brain. For most of my tests during the year, I lay on the couch and read my notes out loud, then take a 15 minute nap for my brain to process/dream about the material. The more you think about something, the better your memory will be.
  2. Take breaks. You can only concentrate effectively for an hour at most. Once you’re done reading/studying on a subject and about to move on to another, take a break. Decide how long the break is before you start taking it! If you feel like you can recover after 15 minutes of break time, then commit to it. Exercising can get the blood flowing again. Do a set of pushups or situps, take a walk, go jogging, or play a round of Call Of Duty. Since my mornings are the most free, I tend to do one subject of homework before I shower. Doing this incorporates a break without feeling too lazy.
  3. Get sleep and stay hydrated. The study linked states that even giving up one hour of sleep to study can affect your test scores the next day. Drinking water combats sleepiness and makes sure your body is operating at its peak. During dead week and finals week, create a curfew for yourself and stick to it. Strive for eight hours of sleep a day.
  4. Listen to music; however, don’t listen to what you want to sing along with. Be honest, listen to music that will create the best environment for yourself to study the best. Maybe it’s the sound of nature or good ol’ country.
  5. Don’t worry, pray. One of the worst situations is coming into a test very anxious. Throughout studying, praying can reduce that anxiety and help someone realize that one final exam is not the ultimate end. Praying will lift the load off your shoulders and give it away. I’ve found praying helps me concentrate while I study and has never let me down. Praying is not an excuse to not study. Students still need to prepare to the best of their ability.

As you walk into your classroom and sit down to take your 8am final exam, be confident. Know that you can’t study anymore. There’s no point in looking into the past and thinking to yourself: I could have studied more. Trust that things will work out.

As the wizard Gandalf says, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

-Samuel Mettler


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