Exams have the tendency to take over our lives. No matter how much we dread them, they still taunt us as the last thing between us and our highly anticipated semester break. To make matters worse, exams somehow seem to consume every ounce of time we have just to prepare for them. Fortunately, there is a way to survive without losing every ounce of energy in your body to the books. Here are eight easy changes you can make to outsmart finals!
At the early hours of the morning, campus is crawling with zombies-college students who have not slept, or were better off not sleeping at all. These walking dead are victims of procrastination– forced to stay up all night in order to study for an exam or finish an assignment. Unfortunately, the consequence of pulling all nighters impacts our performance in the classroom. For a student who goes a week sleeping less than seven hours each night, will perform just as poorly in class, as a student who has gone 48 hours without sleeping. Sleep is a vital part of being successful in the classroom. With final exams approaching, be sure to get adequate amounts of sleep to ensure peak performance on tests. Instead of pulling an all-nighter, be proactive and don’t procrastinate. By going to bed earlier, you are more likely to retrieve information that you have learned than if you are too tired to even keep your eyes open.
2. Make artificial energy your enemy.
For most college students, caffeine is the greatest invention known to man. We can stay up all night. And the next day, all we have to do is grab a large coffee with a few espresso shots, or even a RedBull and we can stay awake all day long. The problem with this is that you are only physically awake. The caffeine keeps you awake physically, however you are mentally sleeping. Keep up the high caffeine routine and you may find harder to sleep which again, will result in a cycle of dependency.
By eating foods high in calories and low in nutritional value, you only depress your mind and body. The most important way to keep your mind sharp and healthy is by eating breakfast. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart any day and make your body feel fresh and ready. Don’t like any breakfast foods? Yogurt is a great breakfast food that not only provides vitamins, but also boosts your immune system. Because of their nutrients and natural health benefits, by eating fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish we increase our capacity to learn and improve our concentration and memory.
4. Give Apple a rest.
Our generation is so focused on technology, constantly with a phone in hand or eyes glued to a laptop or TV. How is exactly is this a bad thing? TV, laptops and even video games, cause the brain to function under slow brain wave activity because it damages the frontal cortex, which affects the ability to concentrate. Technology suppresses the activity of the frontal lobe, which causes attention problems, which is not good for someone who is taking a test that same day. So watch TV and play videogames in moderation, and take frequent breaks from technology to rest your brain and prepare for exams in order to be able to give them your full attention. Technology can wait.
5. Make water your new best friend.
It is easy to forget to drink water. With all the other drink options around campus, water seems to be the last thing on a lot of people’s minds, especially when it comes to studying for exams. We cannot forget about water. Water keeps us from being dehydrated, which helps keep the brain from decreasing in activity and shutting down. Together with eating well, water fuels our minds to focus and gives our bodies the energy to get through the final push.
6. Take breaks.
After procrastinating for so many days, we have no choice but to cram as much information as possible into our brains the night before exams. Despite the time crunch, if you do not take frequent breaks during this intensive study period, you are less likely to absorb and retain the information you so desperately need crammed into your brain. In addition, skipping breaks increases stress and exhaustion which both will not help you pass your test. Although people who take breaks often feel guilty, because it is viewed as a “get away” from work, your brain needs to a rest at periodic intervals so it can process information and retain it.
It is common knowledge that exercise produces endorphins and endorphins make you happy. The mood boost caused by the endorphins, also enhances your cognitive abilities. Not only does exercise provide us with a great attitude, but, due to the increase in blood circulation to the brain, we are able to focus more. So if you ever find yourself unable to focus on a problem or chapter, do a quick workout to get your blood flowing, and you will feel as good as new when you attempt studying again.
8. Meditate and relax.
In a quiet room, it is only natural that our brains tend to drift off and think about other things, however this is counterproductive when you are suppose to be taking a final exam. The solution? Meditation. Meditation helps us train our brains to focus on one thing rather than allow our thoughts to wander. There are those who believe that to meditate you have to do yoga, which is not true. Meditation can be as simple as sitting on the floor, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes. You can even meditate during an exam to force your mind to stop wandering; meditation is key to heightening our ability to focus.