How To & Tips

Top 10 Effective Life Hacks for Surviving Your Finals

Final exam time is right around the corner, but don’t let that freak you out. Check out these study tips for finals for ways to do your best while staying healthy – and sane!

1 Write out your notes by hand

You may be wondering how to pass your exams without studying. Most likely, you can’t. But you can use techniques to make studying easier. One way to do this is taking notes by hand. Research has shown that students taking notes on paper learn significantly more than those who take notes using a laptop.

2 Take short, frequent breaks from studying

Research shows that taking breaks can significantly improve your concentration. Try using the Pomodoro technique to break up your time most effectively. Start by deciding on a task, such as “make flashcards” or “highlight key information in notes.” Next, set a timer for 25 minutes. Work on that task until the timer goes off, then take a short, 5-minute break. After every four 25-minute sessions or “pomodoros” take a longer break, up to 30 minutes.

3 Power yourself with proper fuel

What you eat can have a major impact on your memory, energy levels and ability to stay focused. Don’t skip breakfast and eat at regular times throughout the day. Avoid high-sugar, high-fat and high-caffeine foods and drinks. They may give you a fast burst of energy, but will as quickly leave you crashing. Instead focus your diet on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and protein. Before an exam, eat a combination of complex carbs, protein and healthy fat to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.

4 Chew gum before your exam

You’re probably thinking how does chewing gum help you do better on tests? Researchers aren’t sure exactly why but found that chewing gum for five minutes before a test was related to improved performance for the next 15-20 minutes. But be sure to spit it out before you start your exam, the same study found that chewing gum during a test can be a distraction.

5 Get moving

Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce exam stress, improve memory and thinking skills, and boost energy. It’s also a great excuse to take a break from the books. Sure, it can be tough to find time to exercise when studying for finals, but even 10 – 20 minutes a day can help clear your head, give you more energy and help you sleep better.

6 Listen to the right kind of music

Not sure how to pass that math final exam? Try listening to classical music while you study – research shows it may help improve brain function. But steer clear of music with lyrics when you’re reading or studying, your brain can’t process the words from both at the same time.

7 Take a “caffeine nap”

Study after study has shown that napping is good for us. Even a 20-minute “power” nap can improve mood, alertness, and performance. Start by finding a dark, quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Set the alarm so you don’t sleep too long. Have a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage right before you lie down. It takes around 20 minutes for the effects of caffeine to kick in, so it should be hitting you right about the time you wake up. Get up as soon as your alarm goes off; longer naps can leave you feeling groggy.

8 Switch up your study location

Your brain likes variety, so don’t always study in the same place. Get out of the house and try going to a coffee shop, the park or even a friend’s house. A change of scenery will help your brain make new associations and recall information more easily.

9 Don’t panic if you’re short on time

Not sure how to study for an exam at the last minute? Start by getting up early. Get rid of any distractions, including your phone, TV or chatty sister. Go through your notes and highlight the most important information. Focus on any topics that you struggle with or have a tough time remembering. Use flashcards to help you memorize key terms, formulas or other details. Get everything ready that you need to take with you to the test the night before (i.e., sharpened pencils, student ID, a bottle of water). Try to get at least 8 hours sleep to make sure you’re at your best.

10 Get help if you need it

Even the best students need help from time to time. If you have a final essay, term paper, book review, or other writing assignments you’re struggling with, you may benefit from using professional writing services, like to help you get through finals in one piece.

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