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8 ways to study smarter, according to Study Lab tutors

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Hillman Library is full and the lines at Saxbys and Starbucks are the longest of the year: It’s clear that exam season has arrived. To help you prepare, we asked the Study Lab’s peer tutors for their best test-taking tips.

If you’d like even more help, the lab’s fall 2022 hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Here’s how to schedule an appointmentThere’s also a wealth of study resources on the lab’s website and Canvas study stills module.

Start early

One of the worst things you can try to do is cram information the day before the exam. Instead, set aside a little bit of time every day to practice problems or review notes.

Use your resources

“Go to office hours.” It’s advice many college students have heard before but is often ignored. It’s not too late though: Reach out to your professors and teach assistants with questions — they want to help you.

Break it into parts

When you first look at everything you need to study, it can seem like an impossible mountain to climb. That’s why it’s important to break the material into parts, focusing on the areas that you struggle with the most. Breaking one big task into a few smaller tasks makes it seem less difficult and forces you to pace yourself with the material.

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Make flash cards or study guides

This tip may seem obvious, but just the process of making these guides (even if you don’t use them) can help you remember important topics and get your brain working.

Teach it to a friend

Talking through problems or subjects will not only help you get the input of another person — it also makes you actively recall the information. If you can teach the material to somebody else, you know you know it.

Practice, practice, practice

Particularly when it comes to STEM courses, there is no such thing as too much practice. Going through practice problems can help prepare you for the possible questions you will face on the exam.

Take breaks

Your brain needs rest to process information. Take breaks while studying to hydrate, get something to eat and stretch your body. And don’t overdo the caffeine.

Don’t compare yourself to others

One of the most challenging parts of tests is the stress, so don’t add to it by comparing yourself to others. Different people learn in different ways, and you will find the method that works for you. Remember that your grades don’t define you, and take care of your mental health.

Are you interested in becoming a peer tutor in the Study Lab? Apply today.

— Kendal Johnson


This story has been updated