OPINION: USF midterms are here. 10 tips to help you pass them.

With midterms around the corner, students may find themselves aimlessly scrambling to study cram. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Studying has always been a hassle for me. It’s been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember. I used to even think that I was just bad at it, because nothing I tried was working.

In my freshman year, I tried to study the way they do in movies: in the library reading a textbook, surrounded by friends and lecture notes. Now as a junior, I have realized that I need to study using techniques that are catered to me and my learning style. 

Unlocking new ways to study is a great way to keep education entertaining. No matter your degree path, finding new and effective ways to retain class material makes a significant difference academically and mentally.

Related: No more gatekeeping the best study spots

While flashcards and Quizlet are useful, these forms of studying get repetitive and dull fast. 

Here are some study tips that I’ve found the most helpful when trying to diversify the studying process:

King Henry Died Drinking Chocolate Milk

Create fun acronyms or sayings to help with memorization. These acronyms can be from personal anecdotes or something chuckle inducing. 

Whenever I have tried this study technique I feel doubtful, but then catch myself mouthing these acronyms aloud during the exam. With acronyms, the wilder, the better.

Swap black ink for blue 

Handwriting out notes is beneficial in itself to promote recalling concepts from memory, and writing notes in blue ink has been proven in a study by University of British Columbia to help the memorization process. 

The color blue enhances memory, as it promotes calmness and concentration. This method is tried and true, so grab that blue.

Recite notes aloud

No matter how time consuming this one sounds, verbally reciting notes is one of the best ways to cement material into long-term memory. 

This ‘learning aloud’ process has been proven in a study from the National Library of Medicine to have a better impact on memorization than studying silently. 

Play teacher simulator 

Trying to teach material to a friend or family member is always super helpful in my studying experience because it forces you to verbalize concepts.

Even better, imagine teaching the material to a kindergartener using simplistic language. Sometimes reviewing tricky concepts from a simpler lens allows for a greater understanding of the concepts.

This studying technique has given me a deeper understanding of the material, by forcing me to recognize and fill in gaps of knowledge. 

Brain games

My all-time favorite study tip is to make associations with certain things, like smells and foods, that reinforce memorization. I will chew gum when I study and then chew the same flavor of gum when testing to help with memory recall. 

Some other ways to form brain associations with learnt material is to wear the same perfume or wear a certain color shirt when studying, and then carry this practice into the classroom during a test.

Crash Course to the rescue

When a break is needed, sometimes it’s best to passively watch a Crash Course or online lecture to keep the brain working. Some of my favorite educational youtube channels include Ted-Ed, Tibees and Just Write. 

Having an auditory and visual explanation of material from a new teacher is oftentimes more engaging than reviewing recorded class lectures.

Forget bar hopping, try “study hopping”

I love changing out my study environment, whether that be daily or weekly. Finding new places to study prevents the experience from becoming dreadful. 

There are many peaceful study spots on campus that I frequent, but I also enjoy studying at local cafes and even at home. Changing study locations helps spice up an activity that is often a bore.

The reward system

Taking breaks is the best time to re-motivate and fuel up. 

In between study sessions, I’ll grab a sweet treat from Argos, or a “drinkity drink” from Starbucks. I find that rewarding myself with snacks is the best way to stay excited when studying.

Schedule study time

Scheduling out different days to study different material is crucial to making sure that all class concepts are reviewed in-depth before exam day.

If I start studying a week in advance, I’ll reserve each day for a different unit. On the day before the exam, I’ll do an overall review of everything learned in class.

This method ensures that no information is missing on that critical testing day.

Brain dump

For visual learners, creating a brain dump on paper or a whiteboard is super helpful for memorization.

This tip has helped me prioritize which study notes I need to revise, and saves me time from over-preparing on concepts that I am already familiar with. Laying out everything I can remember allows me to see what concepts I could use a refresher in. 

As midterms are approaching, students can implement these new studying techniques to reach their full academic potential.

On top of all these tips, it’s important to keep in mind the importance of getting proper rest and eating well. The body needs sufficient fuel in order to process and retain information, so students should cater to their wellbeing as well as their education.