Wednesday, December 7, 2016

4 Study Tips to Help You Ace Your Finals

young boy with a blackboard with scattered alphabet surrounded by books holding a book over his head with animated stress face

Stuck in a study rut with finals just around the corner? 

Whether you're a grade A student or struggling in your classes this semester, finals can be overwhelming. They can mean information overload, time crunches, and added stress. Learn how to maximize your study time with these easy tips provided by Rio Salado Counselor Elena Matus McDonald.

There are many new and alternative methods to studying. The key to applying effective study skills is to find what works for you.

snapshot of youtube video.  Image of a gameboy interface with text: 8 Advance Study Tips

Thomas Frank (2015) discusses eight innovative and thought-provoking studying techniques in this video

Here are four takeaways to keep in mind.

1) Ask yourself: what it is you do not understand?

First, it is important to be aware that when you do not understand something in a course you can become emotionally overwhelmed by your frustration. Given this, you may not be able to identify what you are confused about initially and that is okay. You may want to discuss your frustration with a friend, coworker, relative, mentor, or just someone you trust that will listen to you openly. Once you feel your frustration decrease this is a good time to attempt to pinpoint what you do not understand.

At this point, you can then ask your instructor for help and specify the content you are confused about. Typically in online courses as you are mainly communicating with your professor through email, so it is vital you clearly communicate the details you are uncertain about in a lesson, assignment, chapter, or any other related course materials.

2) Set short-term goals and reward yourself.

When you sit down to study, set a goal for that study session and then reward yourself once it is completed. For example, if you plan to study for an hour, specify what content, pages, and/or homework assignments you wish to complete within that time frame and only reward yourself when it is accomplished such as spending 20 minutes on social media, texting a friend, watching a TV show or movie, etc.

3) When you get distracted write down what the interruptions are.

If you are studying at home this is particularly important to take notes of what diverts your attention from your study session, when it occurs, and how often. You can then begin to identify a pattern and can reduce and/or eliminate these distractions in your next study session.

4) Replace traditional flashcards to memorize content by downloading the free software program called Anki.

Frank states that the free software program, Anki, uses a technique identified as space repetition. He notes that space repetition, involves the idea where concepts you know well will appear less often than concepts you do not know as comfortably. This way of learning to commit content to memory is more effective than studying the same flashcards over and over in varying orders.

Remember that all of the study tips discussed here, and in the video mentioned above, may not work for you, however, you will want to try a few to determine which study skills are the most beneficial for you. It may also be helpful to assess your study habits and what practices you may need to change to see better results in the future. 

Frank, Thomas. (2015, January 22). How to Study Effectively: 8 Advanced Tips - College Info Geek. Retrieved from

Contributed by Elena Matus McDonald on behalf of Rio Salado Counseling, helping students with their personal, educational and career goals.

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