It's exam time and I know you all are busy, so I thought today we would talk about how to study. Here are some interesting and easy ways to change your habits for better results!

Study Tricks and Tips
  • Although it's tempting (and sometimes inevitable) cramming really isn't the best way to study. For best results, study throughout one full week. Try not to "cram" during every spare moment before an exam. this only increases the feeling of desperation which leads to panic, and then to test anxiety. You may find it useful, on the night before an exam, to jot down a few ideas or facts which you wish to have fresh in your mind when you begin the exam. Read through your list a couple of times when you get up in the morning and/or just before you take the exam, then put it away. This kind of memory reinforcement not only improves your performance on the test, it also improves your long-term memory of the material.

  • Keep Hydrated. A 2% decrease in hydration can cause up to 20% loss of focus. (Just make sure that your "hydration" is non-alcoholic!)

  • Snack smart while you study. Have your snacks prepared when you begin a study session--don't wait till you get hungry and go rummaging for food. Avoid any snacks or drinks that will give you a rush of energy, because with every rush comes a crash in which all the information you studied is lost to an intense desire to sleep. Focus on "slow release" carbohydrates, which not only give you a steady stream of energy, but they also boost serotonin, a brain chemical that makes you feel good. Don’t replace protein with caffeine. Protein and complex carbohydrates are an energy source that won’t leave you jittery. Also, Begin to study 30-90 minutes after a meal.
    • Drink Cocoa! Packed with antioxidants as well as cognitive and mood enhancers, the unadulterated cacao bean has been recently lauded as a superfood. But once it is processed into chocolate bars, cacao's healthy benefits are overpowered by sugar -- which will provide a spurt of energy followed by a longer crash. To take full advantage of the nutritious bean, dissolve a spoonful of organic cocoa into a hot milk of your choice and add cinnamon, espresso and cayenne pepper for optimal energy. Here is a link to the perfect recipe:
  • Have a healthy breakfast. Hunger pains and a growling stomach will hurt your chances of getting an A. Statistics have shown that males do better on tests with a slightly hungry stomach, and that females do better on tests with a slightly full stomach.

  • Do Cardio: According to some, just 20 minutes of cardio a day can help improve your memory. And for those of you who can, cardio outside is even better -- taking abreak in nature is more relaxing than taking a walk down a city street, which calls upon you to engage actively with your environment. But if it's freezing out and the gym is closed, you can always take a quick dance break.

  • Study in 20-50 minute chunks. It takes time for your brain to form new long-term memories, and you can't just keep studying flat out. Take 5-10 minute breaks (no more!) and do something physically active to get your blood flowing and make you more alert. Do a few jumping jacks, run around your house, play with the dog, whatever it takes. Do just enough to get yourself pumped, but not worn out.

  • Make enough time in your schedule to **get enough sleep**. Think of it this way: If you sleep only 4-5 hours, you'll probably need to double your study time in order to be as effective as if you'd gotten 7-9 hours of sleep. Study more and sleep less? That doesn't sound like a very good deal. Get a good night's sleep every night and you'll be making the best of your study time. If you end up a little sleep deprived despite your best efforts, take a short nap (20 minutes) before studying. Then do some physical activity (like you would do during a break) right before you start.

  • Correct lighting. For men, try studying with a dimmer light (though not overly dim). Statistics say that 75% of guys that do this will focus better. For girls, it's indicated that 90% of the time, they study and focus better in a brighter room with little noise.

  • Use Acronyms to Remember Information: In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave. An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

  • Listen to music: Certain types of music, like Mozart's compositions -- which follow a 60 bpm pattern -- have been shown to activate both the right and left sides of the brain in listeners. Stimulation of both sides is linked with increased recall, and so listeningwhile studying can help increase the likelihood that you will retain relevant information.

  • Alternate Study Spots: Earlier this year, the //New York Times// explained that rather than sticking to one study spot, you should switch things up when reviewing for exams. (If you do have to stay in a single location though, we hope it's one of these.)

  • Engage Your Emotions. Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

  • Take deep breaths while you're taking the test. Stay calm and pace yourself. When you're relaxed and when you sit up straight, you can remember things more easily. Also, your brain needs blood to think - occasional deep breaths will oxygenate your blood more completely.
  • Read the questions carefully. Read the questions at least twice, in case you missed something before. Underline the keywords in the question. Don't rush. If possible, read the entire exam through before beginning to work. This will give you an idea of what is in store and will help you to manage your time better. It also prevents any nasty surprises with only a few minutes left.
  • Go with your first answer. Your first answer is probably correct and if you go back and change your mind several times, you're likely to make a mistake due to self doubt. The only time it is better to change your answer is if your almost 100% sure its the right answer and the one you chose before makes you think otherwise. Go with your gut, since it is yourfirst instinct. Just in case to make sure you got the right one, go over the question again.
  • Stress causes your body to release a chemical called cortisol, which can block your brain's ability to recall facts and memories. So, the most important thing is to stay calm and relaxed. Remember that if you don't do well on this test, it's not the end of the world.
  • Never, ever pull an "All-Nighter" on the night before an exam. This is a "freshman trick," meaning that good students learn very quickly that it is futile. What you may gain from extra study time won't compensate for the loss of alertness and ability to concentrate due to lack of sleep.

Compiled from the following websites: