Strive for Success: Finals Studying Tips

Kaitlin Ryan, Staff Reporter

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The fall semester is drawing to a close and the campus is officially in finals mode. Grasselli is open 24/7, residence hallways are eerily quiet and everyone’s stress levels have reached their peak.

Between cumulative tests, group projects, presentations, papers and illnesses, life during finals week is inevitably overwhelming.

Fortunately, the following advice and study tips from the psychology department might help make finals week a little less stressful.

To get the most out of your study sessions, it is helpful to know your learning type. Whether you are an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner impacts the way that you retain information.

“Everyone learns differently, said Psychology Professor Denise Ben-Porath in an interview. “Visual learners do best with flashcards like those that can be found on Quizlet. Auditory learners do well by reading the material aloud. I have some students who record themselves reading their textbooks so that they can listen to the material while they drive or work out. Kinesthetic learners often do well by rewriting their notes.”

One thing is true, though, for all types of learners: “Rehearsal is key,” she said. “Regardless of how you learn, you must rehearse it multiple times to be sure it is in memory.”

In a lecture, Assistant Professor of Psychology Anthony Tarescavage evaluated the effectiveness of different study methods. He presented scientific information showing that highlighting, summarization and rereading are the least effective in helping people to retain information.

He noted that practice testing is the most useful way to study. When you take a practice test, your mind is practicing the retrieval of long-term information. On exam day, it is much easier for your mind to fetch the information, since you have already done so before.

Also, getting adequate sleep is extremely helpful during finals week, as the brain solidifies all of the information that was learned from the day while you are asleep. Staying up until 3 a.m. the night before an exam to cram as much as possible is doing more harm than good.

Tarescavage said that the study method of massive practice, known as cramming, is helpful for short-term learning. However, it’s not for long-term learning, which is required for test-taking. Dividing up your study sessions and taking breaks in between is much more beneficial.

Ben-Porath also suggests students take a break from social media during finals week.

“There are so many distractions in today’s world,” she said. “When you are studying, leave your cell-phone at home.”

Technology has a negative impact on your studying in other ways as well. Tarescavage advises against his students taking their notes on laptops. This habit has been shown to reduce information retention.

“When someone has a laptop, they’re much more likely to just copy word for word what the professor is saying in the lecture because they have the ability to do it. You can type a lot faster,” Tarescavage said.

As you continue to spend hours in the library or your other favorite study spot, it may be helpful to know the best methods of studying for you; to quit relying so much on technology and to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.