Let’s be honest, we can all become lazy when it comes to our studies in college. The closer you get to graduation the less you are willing to go to class, complete homework in advance, and give yourself enough time to study. Believe me, I know the feeling when you sacrifice a night of making notecards for free drinks during Ladies Night at the bar. Bad decisions will be made and procrastination will become normal. However, there are still test-prep habits to suite your lazy student needs. Here’s a few…
The 3-Day Rule
You know that your exam is a week away and you should start studying ASAP. But because we are social and sleepy beings, it is easy to put off our responsibilities. Despite whatever is going on in your life before an exam, always give yourself at least three days to study. Use the first day to just get things started – Read through your notes, skim some chapters in the book, or maybe begin making notecards. You should feel prepared on the second day to go over everything and really drill the info into your brain. The third allows for a little extra effort to go over the most confusing concepts. The power of three has always worked for me, and I know it will for you.
Don’t Kill Yourself
Take breaks! No one can possibly stare at a textbook for seven hours without getting a bite to eat, stretching, or clearing his or her mind. You’re only human, and after a long while information just becomes mush in your brain. Every 45 minutes to an hour get outside for a walk, grab a snack, or take a 20-minute nap. Over doing it will cause even more anxiety and stress, which will decrease your brain retention.
You’ve heard this from your professors a lot, but it’s true – Don’t just memorize the information, UNDERSTAND it. Don’t spend your study time memorizing definitions, processes, facts, etc. (Which is actually much more difficult). Instead, read over the subject out loud, explain the process to a friend, add in hand motions/silly sounds to help with memory, or just rewrite the concepts on a separate sheet of paper. Going through the terms slowly and understanding why, how, and when is much more effective than just memorizing words.
Get Some Sleep
The worst thing you can do is pull an all-nighter. You can’t think clearly when you are exhausted, and studies have shown that sleep helps retain new information. If you are feeling tired, take a power nap! Go to bed at a reasonable time, even if you don’t feel totally confident about the exam. Put sleep first and wake up earlier in the morning to go over some things if you are too tired the night before. Your brain needs rest to function, so catch some Z’s!
Another stupid mistake is to skip meals because you are too stressed about studying. In college I had some “Sorority Suzy” friends who would say on the day of finals “OMG I’ve been up all night studying. And all I’ve, like, had to eat today was a Chai Latte lolololol.” No. You’re bound to fail on an empty stomach. Your brain is an organ that requires calories to function. And yes, you burn calories when you study because you are really using your brain. So fuel it! (Hint: drink orange juice or have anything packed with Vitamin C before the exam. It enhances brainpower and function!)
I know these tips are for the lazy student, but don’t become so lazy that you wear your pajamas to the exam and fall asleep. A friend once told me that she gets all dolled up before the exam because it boosts her confidence, and therefore, her exam confidence. However, I don’t necessarily think you should wear your prom dress to finals, but I do think that wearing something that makes you feel good helps. It’s crucial to be comfortable, but wear a new blouse, your favorite shoes, or curl your hair. Knowing that you look sharp will keep you relaxed and more assured about your answers on the exam.
Chat With Classmates
Right before the exam, sit next to a classmate who seems to have their sh*t together. Ask them how they studied; what they think is most important to know, and to help explain concepts that you didn’t understand. You can find some answers from a quick conversation before the test.
Relax After The Exam
Don’t stress if the test was really hard and you feel as if you did poorly. What’s done is done, and there’s nothing else you can do but keep on keepin’ on. Reward yourself with a long nap, happy hour with friends, delicious food, or an adventure outside. Whether you bombed the exam or made it your b*tch, it’s over now. So let it go, and know how to prepare for the next one.