Freshman Study Tips

Hey, guys!! Happy Last Day of Classes!!  I hope all of you freshmen are remaining relatively calm as we mentally prepare ourselves for our first collegiate final exams!!

As a freshman myself, I would like to take this time to really stress the importance of not letting your emotions and/or bad habits hinder you from doing your very best on your first college final exams. I would also like to share with you guys some tips that I have mentally given myself as I have prepared for common exams in my classes throughout the semester that I think will help the rest of you effectively study for yours.

1. Even if you do not have your first exam until next week, you should still start studying tomorrow. Give yourself tonight to relax, mentally prepare yourself and get a good night’s sleep, and then hit the books first thing tomorrow morning.  I guess that kind of makes sense, right? However, more often than not, we let time slip away from us. Then before you know it, it’s the night before the exam and you’re stressed out to the max. Don’t do that to yourself! Allot yourself plenty of time to plan out what days you’re going to study which subjects and how long you are going to study them. From my personal experience, I have waited until the night before to study for a Chemistry test, and I still failed it. Then another time, I stayed up all night writing a paper that was due the next morning and I only made a C on it. Needless to say, I never made those mistakes again. Last-minute cramming does NOT work, ladies.

2. Make sure you put away all distractions. This is included but not limited to turning off your cell phone/electronic devices and saying no to hanging out with your friends. Even if you need your laptop for studying, make sure you discipline yourself from opening up those Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr tabs so you can really focus on what you need to do. Learn to say no to people who want to go out every night during finals week. Find a quiet place to study and isolate yourself from everyone and everything. You have a lot of responsibilities to uphold (especially you freshmen who are in the Honors program trying to maintain your GPA to stay in) and you have no time to waste; this next week is either going to make you or break you.

3. When you are studying for math or science, you basically just need to practice, practice, practice. Try practicing example problems instead of spending hours reading through everything. As a hands-on learner, I find it much more effective to just go straight into it and attempt the problems so that I am applying what I have learned instead of just sitting there and nonchalantly memorizing a bunch of formulas and rules. Then, if you come across some problems you don’t know how to do, take out your formulas/rules and learn how to apply those. Go over your old test/quiz papers and look over those problems, too. Unlike studying for English/history/foreign language, however, you basically just need to put into practice your memorization skills. History is never changing (because it already happened), grammar rules are not going anywhere any time soon, and foreign language is just straight memorization. Generally, for all of my subjects, I like making flash cards. When using your flash cards, keep track of the ones you know for sure and ones you are still having a hard time memorizing, and turn it into a “game,” if you will. Try thinking of something funny or a silly acronym/mnemonic device that will help you remember something.

4. In the midst of all of the fun you will be having in your studying, you need to make sure you take breaks. Think of ways to reward yourself for spending an x amount of hours focusing really hard on something, i.e grabbing lunch/dinner with some girlfriends, checking your phone for a few minutes, taking a shower, going for a walk/run, etc. You need to take time away from your studying to mentally process all of it, especially if you are growing frustrated with a certain topic. After your break, you can go back and try again; and who knows, you might even say to yourself, “Oh yeah!” when you look at it again, because you have a “fresh pair of eyes” and your mind is clear again.

5. Stay hydrated and make good eating choices. There is nothing worse than filling your body with a bunch of harsh toxins and feeling weak and tired. Even if you don’t like drinking water, a few sips of water will really make you feel like a million bucks.  However, if you absolutely need some caffeine to get you going, try drinking some coffee or tea. I, personally, drink about 3 cups of coffee every single day, and I love it. I then drink an additional 4 to 5 glasses of water, because caffeinated beverages dehydrate you.  Healthy eating is also conducive to effective studying, because you need good “brain food.” I like to eat oatmeal or cereal in the mornings and compliment it with an orange or a banana and then my cup(s) of coffee. This is much better than eating greasy and fattening eggs/bacon/sausage/hash browns. In addition, the complex carbohydrates from the cereal/oats and fruit will keep you full longer (There is nothing worse than your stomach growling during the exam). Then at lunch and dinner, instead of going for that pizza or burger and fries in BDH, try eating a salad, some of the grilled chicken and vegetables, or some whole-wheat pasta. These foods are also lower in fat and grease and have more positive nutritional value, such as an abundance of Vitamin C in the broccoli, lean protein from the chicken, and the whole grains from the pasta – and you won’t have that sluggish feeling you get when you eat all of that other junk. I’m not saying you only have to eat those particular things, but it will be to your benefit to start making good and healthful choices in the dining hall.  We’re all trying to refrain from gaining that Freshman 15 anyways, right?

6. Finally, get a good night’s sleep every night between now and the end of your last final exam. Classes are over now, so why worry yourself silly with staying up into the very late hours of the night, every night, and stress yourself out even more? Your body needs rest and you cannot function properly and be an effective test-taker when you are going into your exam on 2 or 3 hours of sleep. This all goes back to prioritizing your time accordingly, and making sure you give yourself plenty of time to study – if you are doing that, then you will go to bed at a decent hour every night during exam week.

We’ve got this, ladies. We are strong and fully capable, and I have no doubt that all of you will do very well on your final exams. Make sure you do what is best for you as you put your study habits into effect during this imperative and crucial time and always remember that at the end of the day, no test or grade is going to define you. You all are smart, valuable, and talented young women, and I believe every single one of you has something truly remarkable to offer in this world. So with that being said . . .

Good luck, study hard, and GO STRONG!

– Catherine


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