Senior students share their study skills

Meagan Malesic, Asst. Features Editor

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     Well, it’s unfortunately that time of year again: midterms season. With Spring Break less than a week away, it seems like the end is just in sight – as long as you can survive the five exams, two papers, and three group projects that stand between you and a week in Cabo. A week packed full with assignments from every class all at once can seem extremely overwhelming, especially if you’re an underclassman or if your study skills could use a bit of work. Three seniors share the tips that have helped them make it through four years of midterm weeks, without losing their minds or dropping their GPAs.

     “First and foremost, always light a good candle,” laughs Maggie Anthony, a senior speech pathology major. But she’s got a good point – research proves that your study environment is extremely important in helping you retain information and get the most out of your study session. Essential oils, such as those released in candles, aid in stress and anxiety relief and can help you stay focused on the task at hand. Additionally, putting on calming music in the background, specifically classical music, has also been shown to de-stress the environment and induce anxiety relief. Overall, the environment can leave a huge impact on the overall amount of studying that is retained – and it is actually helpful to carry out your studying across multiple, different environmental settings. “I bounce between studying alone in my room and studying with friends in the library,” Anthony agrees. Studying in more than one environment keeps the brain active and forces its neurons to make more associations between the material that is being studied and multiple environmental settings, therefore resulting in a stronger memory of it. In order to make the environment as study-focused and stress-free as possible, it is also a smart idea to limit as many distractions as possible, such as turning cell phones on do-not-disturb and staying off of the Internet.

      Kacey Bodden, a senior majoring in speech pathology, has her own studying strategy that has helped her throughout her college career. “I always go over my information more than once, usually by myself first and then together with other people later on,” she says. This is another tip that is backed by research. Repetition is key for memorization; the more times that you go over the material that is being studied, the more likely that it will actually be retained and the easier that it will be recalled during the test. For more difficult material, Bodden adds, “I like to get together with my friends that I have the same class with so that we can talk it all out and try to make sense of it all”. While working in a group may not be helpful for everyone, if you are able to stay focused during group study sessions, this may be one of the better studying techniques to use. Having other members with you that are studying for the same class holds everyone in the group accountable and keeps the group on task. Additionally, research suggests that the very best way to study is to make and take practice quizzes, because this method is the most similar to how the actual test setting will be. Other group members can get together to make these sample exam questions and quiz one another, resulting in optimal study time.

     Of course, the way that you’re studying is not the only important aspect of surviving midterms week; what you’re doing in between study sessions is also equally important. Mike Houlihan, a senior business major, knows the importance of making time for self-care throughout his busy schedule. “I know how important exercise is and how my mind needs it to keep me focused,” Houlihan shares. “Sometimes I’ll take a break to just go take a hike or go on a run so that I can re-focus myself and de-stress”. The benefits of exercise are numerous and backed in research, and they apply directly to studying success as well. Regularly exercising helps to improve brain processing and cognitive abilities, as well as acts as a natural reliever for stress and anxiety for better focus. Taking the time to take a break and get up and move in between studying sessions can help the mind stay on track and better retain and memorize all of the material that it is learning without getting overwhlemed and panicked in the process.

     Good study tips are invaluable as a college student, and nobody is better to share these skills than the senior students, especially during this hectic and potentially stressful time of the semester. Of course, it’s also important to realize that every person is different, and that what works for one person might not work for everyone else. Be patient and try out multiple strategies until you figure out what works for you – and then stick to it.