11 Brilliantly Innovative Techniques for Smarter Finals-Season Studying

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As the semester comes to a close, even the most diligent students are bound to enter panic mode over impending finals. Even if you have a mountain of information to conquer before test time, hope is far from lost. Thanks to a legion of helpful technological tools and a few nifty psychological tricks, studying can be a lot easier than you might have expected.

1. Get Smarter Flashcards

The building block of any study session is the flashcard. If old-fashioned index cards aren’t working for you, try one of several digital varieties. Some programs, such as Encore, offer the option to quiz yourself. Others, like Headmagnet or Study Blue, organically drop problems or topics you seem to have a handle on and divert focus to the areas with which you’re struggling.

2. Build a Worldwide Study Group

Collaborating with fellow students is always helpful, even if you can’t find any around campus. In such cases, you’ll find Quizlet to be an invaluable asset. The international studying forum, spanning every conceivable academic subject, permits users to create, share, and utilize preparatory materials created by other students.

3. Practice With Real Exams

If you’re looking for something a bit more formal to use as a practice exam, there is an easy way to find genuine university tests online. In the Google search bar, type the name of the subject of interest, followed by “exam site:edu.” Odds are that a handful of colleges have published just the sort of tests you’re looking for on their official websites, which make great test-prep aids.

4. Manage Your Schedule

When it comes to making the grade, managing your time is just as important as having the right study materials. Use an app like iStudiezPro to view all your assignments and exams in one place so that nothing falls through the cracks. Or, use the app Study Checker each time you crack open a book to record how long you spend with your nose to the grindstone.

5. Force Yourself to Stay on Task

A big part of staying on track is limiting distractions, namely the entertainment and social media sites you keep telling yourself you’ll check “just one more time” before getting back to work. To ensure limited perusal of your favorite sites, try self-imposed website blocks via Cold Turkey or Self Control.

6. Ensure You Make It to the Exam

Everyone’s had a bad dream about sleeping through a big exam. Luckily, there are apps built to prevent you from oversleeping—some force you to solve intermediate math problems in order to shut off your alarm; some require you to leave your bed and take a photograph of a predetermined object; some even charge you money for every time you hit the snooze button!

7. Steer Clear of Crowds

Sometimes, the biggest distraction is simply other people. If you’re looking for a quiet place to study—a café, a restaurant, or even a park—Avoid Humans can be your best friend. The website zeroes in on local establishments and public grounds and alerts you to just how crowded or empty they are at any given moment.

8. Pool Course Notes With Friends

One terrific gadget for copying a friend’s notes or filing information from a library book: a portable scanner. Your phone can actually double as such via apps like Genius Scan and Droid Scan, turning quick snapshots into PDF versions that are easy to revisit and review.

9. Speed Up Your Reading

With so much to cover at the dawn of finals season, time is always of the essence, so it pays to be able to digest information quickly. Although speed-reading is hardly a panacea when it comes to material overload, it could be useful skill to master—programs like Speed Reading Trainer can help you up your words-per-minute intake (a good place to start: Times New Roman has been deemed the font with the swiftest readability). If you’re still pressed for time, apps like Audacity allow you to record class lectures and play them back at increased, but still entirely coherent, speeds.

10. Enlist Mozart’s Help

Of course, more important than your speed at taking in data is the adherence thereof. Certain atmospheres are more conducive to human brain power than others; it is suggested that listening to a low-volume recording of classical music while studying, particularly while reviewing an audio file of a professor’s lecture, can hike attentiveness. It is also theorized that studying for high-pressure exams in blue-colored areas can be particularly soothing, and as such beneficial to your focus.

11. Venture Outside the Reading List

Extracurricular input can be a helpful, and uniquely invigorating, method for nailing down a subject. A great resource for additional material on just about any subject is the TED Talks website, which can help to bring new coherency to otherwise dense topics. Naturally, a good, relevant documentary can be a precious find as well—searching the archives Documentary Addict might land you with a worthwhile film.

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