10 tips to help you hit the books this midterm season

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1. Plan and Prioritize.

Studying always seems overwhelming when you have everything due at the same time—which seems to happen frequently. It’s essential to put your obligations into perspective by making a prioritized study schedule. A schedule will allow you to spend less time deciding what to do, and more time working. This method saves you from the last-minute panicked cramming which does no favours to your grades. Always remember that millions of students have been through the exact same thing as you and survived. You can do it.

2. Take breaks, plan non-studying activities.

Your brain is not a sponge. It needs some distraction from constant harassment. Schedule 10-minute breaks in your study plan to allow your brain to breathe. Also, pencil in some fun events, like a dinner out with friends or a walk in the park. Give your body something to look forward to beyond your studies.

3. Find your study place. 

Studying on your bed under the covers in dim light is not studying: it’s either torturous or, will inevitably lead to sleep. Choose a regular study space free of distractions, that you can keep coming back to. Using the same space will allow you to  spend less time to get into study mode. Schedule regular times in the day to study thereby allowing your body to get into a rhythm, setting the mood for your daily date with the books.

4. Use all your resources.

Homework problems, TA info sessions, extra classes, group discussions, or any sort of organized exposure to course material will improve your marks. Your best learning is done in group sessions where you are forced to think about the material. Turn that passive knowledge into an active understanding by varying your learning techniques.

5. Meditation and breathing.

The biggest problem with this time of the year is the mounting stress that cause so many of us to stumble. Adopting relaxation techniques like meditation, controlled breathing, and yoga into your daily routine, your mind will remain calm—increasing its ability to absorb and retain information.

6. Eat well, exercise well.

Do not fall victim to the potent mix of Kraft Dinners or fast food with a side of immobility. At this time of year, you need to focus on keeping fit in order to give your brain the optimal resources to perform. Eat balanced meals and keep up with your exercise routine to maintain sanity and ward off illness.

7. Study effectively.

Tackle lectures using both top-down and bottom-up approaches. Focus on the details, memorize them, and then make the connections to the big picture. Also, try to decipher the theme of a lecture or topic and discover how this applies to the nitty-gritty. Keep things in perspective, and your courses will become clear.

8. Refresh yourself.

Stress can transform even the smartest students into less intelligent versions of themselves. To increase the effectiveness of any exam study session, refreshing activities are recommended. Chewing on some minty gum is a great way to freshen the mind, as is sipping on some tea or indulging in aromatherapy, which can be done by using simple incense sticks.

9. Read between the lines.

Pick up the hints that professors and TAs inevitably drop about upcoming exam questions. Also, professors will often test on what they are interested in. If your professor starts a topic that focuses on their personal research, then there is a high probability that this will appear on your exam.

10. Group study.

Group study offers ways to expose yourself to information by teaching, learning, and brainstorming together. Needless to say, studying can be boring and motivation can wane, but when you have a date with some friends for coffee and Timbits, you are more likely to wake up early on Sunday morning to get back to the books.