10 Study Tips to Help You Earn an “A” on Your Final


Moyan Brenn

Original Picture: Flickr – Moyan Brenn Edit: Grace Li

Alexandra Stassinopoulos, Writer

With finals just around the corner, everybody knows they need to buckle down and study. However, many people don’t study the right way. While cramming until one in the morning and putting together study trips to Starbucks, may seem like the best way to study, your grade may not actually benefit from all the time spent hitting the books. To prevent any nasty surprises at the end of the semester, here are ten ways to help you get  grades on  your finals:

1. Put aside chunks of time to study for a particular class instead of just deciding to study “whenever you have free time”.

Scheduling study time makes you more likely to follow through on end-of-semester resolutions to review for the finals.

2. Be motivated when studying, or, in other words, make studying worth it by setting a reward.

For example, did you do the science review worksheet? Have a snack, watch a movie, or take a ten minute nap. For this tip to not be only another excuse for you to race through studying, check your work before heading off to enjoy a break; if it’s not one hundred percent correct, fix the mistakes before relaxing.

3. Study someplace quiet without a lot of clutter or distractions; we all agree that in a battle between food and math notes, the food is probably going to win, so try and avoid the kitchen unless your self-control is at kung-fu master level.

Also, while your room may be a good place to study, make sure not to study on your bed; you’ll be more likely to fall asleep than study.

4. Quiet doesn’t mean silent.

If playing music helps you relax, then by all means put on some music. Be sure that the music isn’t loud enough to be distracting and that a long playlist is up so too much time isn’t wasted trying to pick out a new song. Instrumental music is the best for concentration and there are even playlists specifically made for studying.

5. If you decide to forgo retreating into the solitude of your room to study with friends, be careful who you study with.

Group studying can be extremely helpful, but only if everyone is serious about the class. One or two people goofing off can be all it takes to make a study session a waste of time.

6. Have all the materials you need to study at the beginning of a study session, including a snack.

The less time spent looking for stuff around the house, the more time spent focusing on what you need to review.

7. Turn off your cell phone; use a computer for music and research.

If you’re studying at home, then your cellphone shouldn’t even be on in the same room as you are. Studying at the library? Then turn your phone off, all the way, and stick it in your bag.

8. Block websites on your computer.

While you may need your computer to watch a video, find practice problems, or listen to music, you don’t need to have anything un-studying related open. A good way to ensure you resist the temptation is to temporarily block sites that might otherwise suddenly open on your computer, the ones that appear when you’re not looking, if you know what I mean. Websites like SelfControl and Minutes Please can block websites for as long as you plan to study.

9. Talk to your teacher.

Teachers want you to do well on their exams because it reflects (to some extent) how well they taught a subject,. If you ask them, most teachers are happy to tell you what types of problems prepare you best for the finals.

10. Use a review method that works for you.

There are hundreds of ways to study, but not every technique works for every person or subject. If you’re not sure which way works for you, experiment before finals to find the best method. Some popular ways of reviewing material include:

  • Make flash cards, online or with index cards. If you want to be able to review flashcards on your phone, a great website to use is quizlet.com.
  • Reread your notes. After all, what have you been doing in class for the past five months?
  • Summarize your notes; reading a notebook’s worth of notes doesn’t do you any good unless you remember what you read. Making a short summary of your notes helps solidify ideas in your mind.
  • If your notes aren’t so good because you didn’t really understand the concept the first time around or just never got around to taking them in the first place, look in the textbook. I guarantee the inside of your science book is not half as scary as you think it is.
  • Do practice problems. Re-doing homework problems, the end of section quizzes and taking a look at the extra practice problems at the back of the book are great ways to pick up on where you need to study more.
  • Once you know what you need to work on, then hone in that area. If your notes aren’t as helpful as you would like, websites like khanacademy.com or youtube often have videos that can explain a topic more thoroughly.