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It’s that time again, test time! Exam time! Mid-term time! It’s that time no one likes to think about and everyone likes to procrastinate until panic ensues. Then you have to face reality and get down to business.


Is this you? Do you feel as if your brain is about to explode from an overload of information? First of all, don’t panic! The worst thing you can do is panic.

Step #1 – Deep Breaths

Take three deep breaths. Yes, you have to do it before you move on to step #2. Don’t just take a shallow breath and say “okay, I did it, now what?” BREATHE! EXHAIL! BREATHE! EXHAIL! BREATHE! EXHAIL!


Step #2 – Clear your mind.

Clear your mind. If you have been cramming every ounce of information possible into your head all at once, it will not work very well. The best way to approach studying is to begin with a clear mind. The best way to clear your mind is to 1) sit in silence (DON’T TOUCH THAT PHONE, PUT IT AWAY!) 2) listen to some calming music (No, death metal does not count). 3) Let your thoughts wander. Do this for 5-10 minutes.

clear your mind

Step #3 – Getting ready to begin

Now you are ready to begin. The best way to study is in short intervals. Cramming does not work people. I had a teacher who once said that the best way to study a subject is to study it for only twenty minutes per day. If you do not have the discipline to do this, then it is still a good idea to take regular breaks in between your study time.


Step #4 – Eliminate distractions

Sit in a quiet area. It should be a place that is comfortable enough to study, but not too comfortable that you would fall asleep. Also, take your phone, music player and whatever else that distracts you, and put it somewhere that is not in arms reach. If you want to make sure you study for an hour, set a timer on your phone and then put it away. Your friends can wait.


Step #5 – Read the textbook

If you have a textbook associated with your course, read it first. Start by reading any highlighted terms and then read the required sections. This will give you a broad understanding of the material that you may have forgotten to include in your class notes.


Step #6 – Take a short break

If you studied for an hour, the best length for a break is approximately 20 minutes. Do not study for more than 2 hours and 30 minutes straight without taking a break. Do not take a break before you reach the 30-45 minutes mark.


Step #7 – Read your course notes

Everyone learns best through different methods. Some people learn best through reading over their notes, some learn best through seeing a visual representation of their notes, and some prefer to listen to a lecture. For those who like to read over their notes, the best way to take notes in class and remember them is to write them out by hand. I know it sounds like a pain… When you are typing something on the computer, your hand does not semantically remember what you are writing. You are just pressing on buttons, the same motion for every letter. Whereas when you are writing, your hand must make different movements. You are most likely to remember the different movements and motions your hand makes while writing than by typing.

Tip: Spending too much time or too little time to organize your notes can result in forcing you to study more. Make sure that your notes are organized sufficiently before the test.


Step #8 – Eat, Sleep, Relax

This step sounds too good to be true, right? In fact, it is one of the more essential steps. When taking a test, half of the battle is to retain the information, the other half is to be in the right mindset and in the right physical condition. Many people will get sick during mid terms because they forget to eat or they do not eat right or sleep well. Sleep usually gets ignored because cramming appears to be more important. Chances are, you will retain more if you sleep than if you cut 2-4 hours off of your time to sleep. Why is that? When we sleep we are repairing the neural connections. Sleep has been proven to boost memory. A lack of sleep does the opposite. Too stressed to sleep? Relax by reading a good book, watch a good movie, or hang out with friends.


Step #9 – Test time

It is now the time to show off your skills. Taking a deep breath works wonders. Just keep telling yourself “I got this!” Walk into the test with a calm mindset, but alert enough to write the test. Remember, all the information is stored in your mind, all you have to do is unlock it.


Good luck !

Until next time,