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How To: Study Smarter

The end of the school year is approaching quickly and students are beginning to prepare for their final exams. Here are a few study tips and tricks to help ace your finals.

Five Day Study Plan 

Everyone is told that the best way to learn is to study in small chunks over a long period of time. Many students either don’t know the best way of going about this strategy or feel they do not have enough time to execute it. However, the five day study plan is a great way to conduct distributed practice instead of cramming the night before.

This strategy involves some planning beforehand. To begin, block off approximately two hours each day starting five days before the exam. Next, divide the material that will be on the test into four sections and arrange them in a list from 1-4. Four being the material that you know the least and one being the material you feel the most confident about. Five days before the exam, spend the entire two hours studying the material you feel the least confident about (number four). On the second day, spend an hour and a half studying the next section on your list (number three) then take the remaining 30 minutes to look over number four. On the third day, look over section 2 for an hour and a half then look over sections three and four for 15 minutes each. Continue this pattern on day four, and on day five, look over all four sections for 30 minutes each.

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Pomodoro Technique 

The Pomodoro Technique is a great way for you to divide studying into little chunks so that the task does not feel overwhelming. It also allows small break periods as rewards so you do not become tired and bored as quickly.

To prepare for the Pomodoro Technique, you should create a to-do list of assignments to complete and then prioritize the most urgent. The trick to this technique is dividing your allotted study time into 30-minute chunks, called Pomodoros. For each 30-minute chunk, you should spend 25 minutes doing work with no distractions or easy cell phone access. Then the remaining five minutes can be spent on the phone, on a bathroom break or just  relaxing.

After four Pomodoros have been completed, it is recommended that you take a longer 15-30 minute break before starting the next set of four chunks. This break can be spent watching an episode of your favorite show on Netflix or getting a bite to eat in Benson.

After completing each Pomodoro, checking off an assignment from your to-do list is an extremely satisfying feeling that motivates you to keep working.


The 45-10-5 method is very similar to the Pomodoro Technique, however, it has larger chunks. Like Pomodoro you need to create a list of assignments and prioritize those that have upcoming due dates.

However, the difference is you should work non-stop with no distractions for 45 minutes. Then you should take a 10 minute break to unwind before continuing your work. Finally, the last five minutes should be spent reviewing what you just finished studying before moving on to the next chunk.

This routine also divides daunting amounts of work into smaller chunks so that you feel less overwhelmed by completing them. The technique also motivates you to continue working because of the satisfaction factor that you will feel after checking off an assignment from your to-do list.

After working for a couple chunks, it is suggested that students give themselves rewards like listening to music or spending an hour with friends. After completing an alloted number of tasks on your list, treating yourself to a meal off campus or a trip to Hanes Mall is a great way to reward yourself for your hard work.

Organization Tips 

It’s important that you stay organized during finals and throughout the school year. It’s a scary moment when you realize you forgot to write a five page paper the night before it’s due. There are many ways to stay organized and keep track of work that needs to be completed.

The Google Calendar app is a great way to keep your daily schedule organized by keeping track of due dates, appointments and other extracurriculars. One way to stay on top of your work is by scheduling time each day to do homework and setting a reminder to actually sit down and work.

Another app, called Wunderlist, helps with task management by allowing the user to create to-do lists consisting of assignments and their due dates. The app then prioritizes these assignments based on their due date, which is beneficial when conducting the Pomodoro Technique and the 45-10-5 Technique.

Although apps are a great resource for students, an old fashioned to-do list or planner can also be extremely helpful. By writing down everything you need to complete, you can visualize your responsibilities and make it easier to break down.

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