Life of a Brave: Top Ten Study Tips for AP and Final Exams

by Mark Lutke

With AP exams and finals approaching, St. John Bosco students may feel stressed or unprepared, but by staying calm and using these well-known study tips, anyone can be prepared to ace all of their tests.

10. Study for tests weeks in advance and avoid cramming.

This is the only way to truly feel comfortable when preparing for any exam. Allotting even just ten minutes a night to review study materials and starting a week or two before a test can be extremely beneficial. Longer review sessions can still be helpful in the days leading up to an exam, but don’t overload yourself because it will more than likely harm your final score.

9. Use flash cards.

As cliché as it sounds, using flashcards whether they be paper-made or digital is undeniably beneficial for many students, especially those studying for exams that involve vocabulary, true or false and multiple-choice questions. Flashcards are most useful in shorter study sessions or as a warmup for longer review.

Some teachers may also allow students to write a select amount of notes on a flashcard of a given size before a test. While reminders can be helpful, it is best not to rely on outside information, except necessary formulas for math or science courses, and instead feel comfortable enough in the content to only require sparse hints or none at all.

8. Study during free time, like at break and lunch or in classes where you might have downtime.

Studying alone or with a group of friends is a productive way to use free time in the upcoming weeks at break, lunch or during Academic Support. Although extracurriculars may clog many students’ after school schedules, there are many opportunities throughout the school day to squeeze in a bit of review.

7. Study where it’s comfortable and quiet.

If you find the sounds of everyday life to be noisy and distracting at times, you may want to study in a secluded or quiet place. Removing distractions is a necessary part of this because technology will overstimulate the brain and make focusing more difficult. For those who do not have access to a quiet or secluded area, it is recommended to study in Bosco’s Learning Commons or a teacher’s classroom.

6. Practice breathing techniques to help center and calm yourself.

Breathing techniques can help you clear your mind and deeply focus on whatever it is you need to do, including studying for finals. Inhaling through your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds and exhaling for eight seconds has been shown to be an effective method. By exhaling for longer periods than you inhale, you are telling your body and mind to relax but also stay alert. This calm and collected mindset is one that is perfect for test taking.

5. Teach the material to others.

Teaching others what you have learned proves to be one of the best ways to truly master content. Along with summarizing what you have learned, teaching others can also help foster a positive mindset. This is because sometimes it is easy to forget that what we learn in school isn’t always common knowledge to others. By giving mock-lectures and talking about course material, one may surprise themselves with how much they actually know. This method can also serve as a much needed break from writing and reading during longer study sessions.

4. Maintain healthy lifestyle by focusing on diet and exercise.

Many people forget that it is hard for your brain to function if your body is lagging behind. When we exercise and eat healthy, blood flow increases in the brain, which improves mental capacity and learning ability. This can be especially helpful for one’s test taking ability. By maintaining an exercise schedule or healthy diet, one can ensure that their brain is firing on all cylinders come test day.

3. Join a study group or start one.

Joining or starting a study group can be a great way to review course content while still being social. It is best to not study with people you are good friends with, but instead with new people or acquaintances. While studying with friends can work for some, many may find themselves becoming distracted and getting sidetracked. Study groups can be especially helpful because you can both learn from and teach to others. While you might take a test alone, studying doesn’t have to be the same.

2. Pay more attention in class.

Many teachers will review material and recap old lectures in the coming weeks. Taking advantage of anything that can help you study includes applying yourself while in the classroom. While it might not be what some want to hear, paying attention in class is crucial to success academically all the time, not just during finals.

1. Most importantly, get eight to ten hours of sleep a night.

Many students often find themselves with distorted sleep schedules due to extracurriculars and homework. But toward the end of the school year, both of these tend to cool down significantly. Take advantage of the extra time and fix your sleep schedule. Go to bed earlier and try to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night in order to be at your best for finals week. Many don’t realize that sleep deprivation is actively harming them and making their lives significantly harder. People who do not get sufficient sleep will have impaired decision-making skills, which could be detrimental for students in need of a grade-boost.

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