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19 Best Final Exam Study Tips | Study Strategies for College Students

Studying can be tedious and time-consuming, but these final exam study tips will help you improve your study routine.

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Studying has never been an easy feat, it’s true. However, in this day and age, there are many outlets to form fantastic study habits.

We are in the midst of the digital age, and it’s easier to get final exam study tips now than ever.

And, with so much extra study time considering the coronavirus, you can practice with any number of digital studying tools.

From Quizlet to Zoom study hours, it has never been easier. These are 19 amazing study strategies for college students:

1. Decide How To Create a Study Schedule

Even before you open that textbook, you need to learn how to create a study schedule.

Though it’s an extra step, doing this makes your study much more valuable and effective, especially when multiple exams demand your attention.

Start by jotting down how much study time each course requires from you.

Then, delegate these into the times you find most effective to study certain subjects, and you’ll have the main elements of how to create a study schedule.

While you may be an expert at your science class, maybe your economics class requires a couple of hours more every week.

While you can study English any day of the week, maybe you find it better to study math at noon since you won’t be sleepy.

While the timing is up to you, one of the most efficient ways to study is directly after class.

According to the research of German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, we forget information at an exponential rate, so reviewing notes within 12 hours after your professor lets you go can be highly effective in your retention.

2. Find Your Study Environment

You have a spot for washing dishes and a spot for watching television. Why not create a devoted study environment too?

This is a peaceful and comforting place that you can access without distractions, and you will be surprised how urges like checking TikTok messages silently fade away.

Whether this is as simple as cleaning off your desk or as outgoing as driving five minutes to your favorite coffee shop, finding the best study environment is up to you.

Spending study time here is a great way to give value to out-of-school academics and may be one of the final exam study tips you need to ace that last test.

Though this small act of finding a study space may seem unimportant or time-consuming, going somewhere else will reduce the busyness and stresses of the day and will make your study significantly more effective. 

Take the idea of a study environment further by dedicating a different study space for each subject.

This way, you only think about statistics homework at your college library without your mind wandering to the geology homework you do at your dorm room’s desk.  

3. Construct the Best Study Music Playlist

Music’s emotion-producing power is unmatched, and making the best study music playlist is a great way to pull that power into your exam preparation.

In today’s world of AirPods and Spotify, our list of study strategies for college students is not complete without the aid of memory-improving tunes.

Finding the most effective songs is different for everyone.

While the best study music playlist for your friend is Chopin on a loop, hours of classical music may make you want to yeet yourself out a window. 

Try some soft jazz to make your brain sharp. Or, listen to nature sounds to calm your nerves.

Maybe you want to search “live classical music” on YouTube for uninterrupted songs that help you focus. 

Constructing the best study music playlist is a gradual process, so add songs and genres as you go.

All that matters is that you prepare your mind to concentrate and eventually trick yourself into liking study hour.

4. Wake up Earlier 

If you feel like there are not enough hours in the day, then why not wake up 30 minutes or an hour earlier?

You can have more time to prepare for exams, finish homework, or get mentally ready for the day. 

This simple act of getting up an hour earlier may not seem like it has a big impact (especially if you compensate that sleep with getting to bed earlier).

However, accomplishing study sessions in the morning will make you feel more successful and motivated to continue the day.

To take this further, dedicate that early time to being phone-free. The sooner you hop on social media, the harder it is to focus back to schoolwork.

The waking minutes of a day determine its productivity; use them wisely. 

5. Exercise Before Studying

It would make sense that exercise makes you tired, but studies have shown that exercising before studying actually helps your brain become more active and engaged.

Increased blood flow leads to greater retention and focus that your study sessions may be lacking. 

Anything from soft yoga to a light jog may be just what your mind needs to become activated.

Working out for as little as five or 10 minutes can have extensive benefits to your homework-completing and test-taking abilities.

The effects of exercise are different for everyone, so find what activity works for you and stick to it.

And the best part is that repeating workouts every other day will have a plenitude of positive effects even outside the scholastic world.

College student doing lunges in a field.

6. Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode

Although answering a BFF’s text or commenting on a sibling’s Facebook post are immediate actions when our phones ding, we have a harder time sticking to the messages of Pythagoras or Shakespeare through textbooks.

Phone notifications can be a large problem when they bring us away from studying, especially when they come every minute or so. Why not turn them off?

Putting your smartphone on airplane mode tells your notifications that they are not as important as your schooling, and this is a crucial declaration to make early on in the studying process.

7. Get the Hard Subjects Out of the Way

We all have that one subject we dread. Maybe because it is too difficult, confusing, or just plain boring. I know you want to pretend that homework never existed, but try getting it out of the way first.

Completing the most difficult assignments first gives you more freedom for the rest of your studying, since the ticking time bomb is gone.

You will be surprised how easily you can finish the easy subjects after the miserable ones are already turned in.

When studying for multiple tests, try studying the hard subjects first. Come back to this subject as often as you need to, such as at the end of the easy studying if necessary.

I promise you will find less stress and more confidence in yourself.

8. Follow the Pomodoro Technique

It can be hard to find time for both study and rest. Either we work too hard or take breaks that are too long, and both scenarios make it harder to get an A on that next exam.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that pushes you to set a timer for 25 minutes of study.

When the timer goes off, take a two-minute break, then start another timer. After four timers go off, take a 15-minute break.

By following this technique, you can control your breaks without giving them up entirely. In addition, when you do take breaks, they help you focus more than they distract you from your work.

It sounds simple, but you may find stunning results with the Pomodoro Technique as you keep up the hard effort and stay away from time-consuming breaks like TikTok.

9. Practice the Leitner System

Chances are that in your many years of formal educate

on, you have used flashcards. Maybe your teacher made them, or maybe you made them. Maybe they worked for you, or maybe they were a waste of time in your eyes.

If flashcards work for you, even if just a little, you have to try the Leitner System. The Leitner System is an organized approach on flashcards with three or five boxes to arrange them in.

All the flashcards start in the first box, and when you get one right, you move it to the next box to be studied less frequently.

When you get a flashcard wrong, you move it to the first box to be studied more frequently. So, if you have three boxes, you start all the cards in Box 1 to be studied every day.

When you get some right, they can be promoted to Box 2 to be studied every other day.

Cards that make it to Box 3 only need to be studied every three days, unless you get one wrong, in which case it moves back to Box 1. 

Although the Leitner System is a simple concept, it is one of the most effective final exam study tips.

You will find this system grants greater retention on more difficult concepts and less time with well-known concepts that do not need your attention.

10. Practice Active Recall

Ideally, we will learn at school. The sad reality, though, is that multiple classes and assignments can make the idea of retention seem more like myth than reality.

When you stop to see what you are learning, though, retention improves. Active recall is when you periodically take breaks from your studying to ask yourself what you’re learning.

For example, closing your textbook after every few pages to see if you remember the content. There are several applications of this principle, such as using flashcards.

Even if you are using another unique study strategy, checking to see your comprehension of the subject’s material will bring your study to the next level.  

This strategy is a great way to realize what concepts need more time in your study and if your learning methods are sufficient enough in your education.

You may find, for instance, that your math textbook is of less use to you than informative videos online.

11. Improve Your Note-Taking Skills

A large chunk of studying may not be during study hour at all, but rather during class; it often boils down to how effectively you take notes.

College student writing notes in notebooks.

No matter how difficult note-taking is for you, there is a strategy for everyone.

Visual techniques, like mind mapping and the Boxing Method, can help you retain information if you learn better with pictures and shapes.

Formal techniques, like outlining and writing Cornell notes, can help you organize tricky concepts.

With the plethora of note-taking processes out there, you don’t need to stay careless with enigmatic scribbles in an unorganized notebook.

Take some new techniques for a spin and see your retention improve exponentially.

If you have already found a note-taking strategy that works for you, great! Even so, it doesn’t hurt to try out a new method every once in a while to see what would happen.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new favorite.

12. Use Downtime to Your Advantage

If you added all the extra minutes you had throughout a seemingly packed day, you’d be surprised how much more you could study.

This may be anything from a couple of minutes before class starts to the half-hour bus ride to campus you usually spend looking out the window.

Use downtime to your advantage in study, since you can find it virtually anytime.

Why not take a picture of your notes to look at while waiting for your name to be called at Starbucks? Or how about watching a five-minute video about a complicated concept before bed?

This may not be your go-to process for every day, but squeezing in a few minutes of Quizlet or informative YouTube during exam day can make all the difference.

13. Type Your Written Notes

We all do it: We go to class, scribble down important words and ideas in a five-subject notebook, then go home and turn to the next blank page without reading our notes.

We think simply writing things down is enough. If you want to remember your notes, there is a better way.

And no, it is not mindlessly flipping through pages of bad handwriting as you try to piece together strange concepts.

To make the most out of notes, type them up.

It may sound like a lot of unnecessary work, but having your professor’s lecture in a medium you can more easily read and navigate through will help you see the bigger picture of the subject, like how past lectures connect to this one.

Even if you never look at your typed notes, transferring them from paper to screen makes it easier to retain ideas since you are seeing them a second time since the lecture.

14. Browse Quizlet

Next, I want to cover a lot about Quizlet as a whole. Quizlet, a company and service that was released to the public in 2007, is quite possibly the best source for modern-day students.

Physical flashcards have been a tried and true form of studying, but what about virtual flashcards?

If you are not a flashcard studier, what about connecting terms to definitions, or organizing a diagram of pictures and phrases?

Quizlet offers every one of these tools to you for free. Yes, for free. 

I am a sophomore in college, and after getting my ears a bit wet in freshman year, I can safely say that Quizlet saved me. If one form of studying wasn’t useful, another was.

And depending on the subject, hundreds of flashcard sets are already made by the many other users of Quizlet.

There are no bounds to the extent to which information can be gained from the source itself.

Oftentimes it almost feels overwhelming how many different ways there are to retain your class information.

However, I can assure you that Quizlet is the most linear of study strategies for college students.

15. Use Retrieval Practice

It can be frustrating to go to class or read a textbook chapter without learning anything. Maybe the content was too confusing. Maybe the professor spoke too quickly.

Or maybe you need to stop cramming information and start using it.

Retrieval practice, also known as the Testing Effect, is when you study class material in a way that allows you to retain the information for longer.

In other words, instead of passively storing information you’re taught, you are actively practicing what you learn.

This can be done in several ways, but the most common are taking practice tests, writing your own study guide, and making your own flashcards.

If you find the information in a chapter too confusing, try putting it in your own words. If you find a lecture too ambiguous, take up the role of temporary professor and teach a roommate.

Although this may take more time than the other study strategies for college students, retrieval practice is a great method to bust out for that especially troubling class (you know the one) and can translate words of a textbook into real-world wisdom.

The brain is like a muscle that you have to exercise to retain its knowledge.

Retrieval practice is the perfect way to put what you learn into action, and the only gym you need is the desire to do your part in your education.

16. Reward Yourself With Study Snacks

Snacks. Need I say more?

Although a lengthy lecture from your textbook or a grueling conversation with your final paper may make education miserable, study snacks can help you keep the focus and motivation your exams need.

Healthy study snacks like carrots, pretzels, and granola bars can keep your mind sharp and give you energy without worrying you about starvation or fatigue.

Get creative with mixtures like fruit salad or trail mix to add variety to your hungering mind and taste buds.

Eat a different snack every study session or keep using the one that works; it’s up to you. Avoid snacks with too much sugar or caffeine in order to keep your mind active without inevitable burnout.

To make your study snacks even more effective, set them aside until you study. For example, keep a can of salted almonds on your desk that you use only when studying.

This way, you trick your brain into actually wanting to read textbooks or write essays.

If you need final exam study tips to combat fatigue, keep your mind awake with intermittent morels and reward your progress through study snacks.

17. Engage in Group Study Sessions

Depending on your focus levels, as well as your attention to group work and dynamics, traditional group study sessions can be very helpful.

Now, I know this is hard to accomplish in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that many “study halls” are far from a study hall, but more of a study chatroom.

It’s not entirely ideal, but it still works. Take, for example, the idea of a coffee house.

Originating in the Middle East in the 1500s, these establishments were hotspots for not only local news, but conversations of academia as well. 

Three people sitting at a table, focused on writing in their notebooks, studying
Source:

This same mentality works in these online “chatroom” settings such as Zoom or Google Meet.

If you are not able to understand a piece of the information or a lecture, meeting with other great minds is such a fantastic aid.

Combined knowledge is far superior to a singular one. If you do not have the answer, another student may.

Groupwork has been shown to increase not only work ethic, but the addition of contact with like-minded people improves the quality of work as well.

After all, if a group project is a shared grade, everyone should contribute. This same idea goes for studying.

If every student is taking the same test, then studying together could ensure the best results.

18. Use Your Professor’s Office Hours

Office hours are so overlooked. Time and time again, if a peer of mine has had trouble with concepts in a course, I have asked, “have you seen your professor during their office hours?”

While this may not necessarily be a study tool, it is a way of learning more information.

Without office hours, many small details of large and extensive topics would be overlooked. Again, this form of information retention is less of a study habit and more of an extension of knowledge.

Reexplanations and emphases on topics mean a world of difference, not only for test-taking, but for assignments as well.

And, if you attend office hours — and I know this from firsthand experience — your professors (or teachers) will often have far more leniency toward you.

Putting forth effort and showing you care about the class and the subject demonstrates much more than results do. If you work with your instructor, they will work with you.

It is a tried and true method. Reexplanation, repetition, and success are linear.

19. Learn When To Stop Studying

I know what you’re thinking: “I came here to learn study strategies for college students, not to learn when to stop studying.”

It sounds counterintuitive, but taking occasional breaks from analyzing notes actually helps in the long run.

Rather than hate calculus after an hour of integrals and derivatives, decide when to stop studying and get a drink of water or catch your breath for 15 minutes.

Perhaps do something productive, like fold laundry, and your studying will seem much more inviting when you return.

If you’re tired, take a quick 20-minute nap. If you’re thinking about pulling an all-nighter, get some sleep instead.

Studies show that we need sleep to convert short-term memory into long-term memory, so staying awake to study, especially when you’re tired, actually makes it harder to remember.     

These study strategies for college students are just scratching the surface of study habits that can help you succeed in school.

While there are many different types of studying tactics, these are the most easily accessible and successful.

With the necessary preparation beforehand, the at-home ease of Quizlet, and the additional help from class members and professors, academic success has never been so easy.

However, what do you do if these final exam study tips don’t work for you? Well, at the end of the day, every student and their individual minds function differently.

If one of these methods isn’t adequate, try something new! After all, with so many learning types and academic necessities, the ability to study and the process of it is completely open-ended.

Do what works for you, but I encourage everyone to try these 19 types of study habits. It’s only the start of a world of academic prosperity.

THAT’S A WRAP. THIS ARTICLE WAS ALL ABOUT STUDY STRATEGIES! 

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