A Stocking Full Of Study Habits


Terry Nelson, Northeast Speech Instructor-Director of Forensics

Everyone says you shouldn’t cram for a test, but let’s face it—most of us have, at least once.  I’ve even crammed a suitcase or two.  But inevitably, the zipper rips and the contents fall out, if you get my metaphor.  And while it’s more fun to decide if you’re going to hit the slopes or play x-box over winter break, truth is, there are a few loose ends to tie up first–namely, final exams.  So let’s check the Christmas stocking of final exam prep goodies….

Tip #1 – Switch it up a bit!

According to the New York Times, if you’re studying for Math in Hawk’s Landing for an hour or so, you should head over to the library to study the rest.  Experts say alternating locations when studying increases retention.

This same source says you should also alternate what you’re studying.  So, after studying a chapter or two of Music and Western Culture, study for your Wind Energy exam or memorize dates for World Civ.  Scientists say this leaves “a deeper impression on the brain”.  It’s likened to interval training in the gym—a little running, a little weight-lifting and wala!

Tip #2 – Say “no” to extra commitments.

According to U.S. News & World Report, having as many extra hours as possible for studying helps (more time=less anxiety).  So avoid adding family commitments, taking on extra shifts at work, and having that coveted cup of coffee with friends (just a little longer!).  Studying is easier if you’re not crunched for time.

Tip #3 – Don’t pull all-nighters.

According to Public Relations Matter, this is risky—most people need a full night’s sleep to perform well on exams.  Scientists say less sleep can result in lower GPAs, a higher chance of academic failure, and overall moodiness (Hershner, 2014).

Tip #4 – Use the tools.

If the professor offers a review sheet, use it.  If the professor offers a review session (like Jeopardy), go.  If you study well with others, put together a study group.  Do what works for you.

Tip #5 – Eat and stay hydrated.

Nourish your brain before an exam and hydrate.  Watch caffeine intake–too much could give you the jitters and distract you (Nixon, 2010).

Ho-ho-hope this helps!!!


Carey, B. (2010).  Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits.  New York Times.  (Online).  Available:  http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/professors-guide/2010/12/10/top-15-hot-tips-for-finals [2014, November 30].

Hershner, S. & Chevin, R. (2014).  Causes and Consequences of Sleepiness among College Students.  Nature and Science of Sleep.  (Online).  Available:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4075951/. [2014, November 30].

Hyman, J. & Jacobs, L. (2010) Top 15 Hot Tips for Finals.  U.S. News & World Report.  (Online).  Available: http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/professors-guide/2010/12/10/top-15-hot-tips-for-finals. [2014, November 30].

Nixon, B. (2010).  28 Tips for Studying for Final Exams.  Public Relations Matters.  (Online).  Available:

http://publicrelationsmatters.com/2010/11/30/26-tips-for-studying-for-final-exams/. [2014, November 30].