Helpful tips for final exams

While students roam around campus as the winter chill attacks and Michelin look a-likes have invaded campus, illusions of Finals Week accrue in every space left in the brain.

Students of every kind-undergraduates and grads-tend to leave studying for finals to the last minute and then become frantic when they realize how close the actual test is-even more so when they realize that the test is comprehensive.

Then, because of slacking, procrastinators can’t wait until Dec. 18, when peace will come back to their once-sane existence. What to do? How to get through the test? How to possibly pass and study for all of the exams?

The “Freshmen Survival Kit,” composed of the dos and don’ts in college that are supposed to help students become more successful, plays like a broken record in their heads when they begin preparing for finals. Prioritize. Study habits. Tutor. Cram the brain. But if students haven’t learned to use these supposed study habits before, how are they going to get them to help them now?

Assistant Professor of Geography at Bridgewater State College James Hayes-Bohanan suggests not studying, but learning as a good alternative. However, last-minute people need some basic tips to be able to get their tickers tocking and to get their brains to start thinking so they will do well on the exams, rather than beating their skulls on the wall, trying to knock the last bit of knowledge they may have actually gained right out.

Before rattling brains and driving beyond the point of no return from staring blankly at the test question, consider the food eaten right before the test and also the time taken to study. There are certain foods that help memory. Our brains need antioxidants, which come from fruits and vegetables. To help keep hearts beating strong, it is important to keep antioxidants in the system. It provides the heart’s output to flow to the brain, helping to increase learning ability and prevent the loss of long-term memory.

The little round, luscious, ball-shaped fruit known as “grapes” are a great source of antioxidants. What about the French and their willingness to drink wine for every occasion? Wine is a product of grapes, therefore stimulating minds and creating a memory inducer. However, drinkers must not over indulge.

Also, a heavy meal right before an important test can make a person feel lethargic, according to Noralyn Wilson, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, primarily because blood is diverted from the brain to the stomach for digestion.

Just like our taste buds associating sour with lemons, memory associates people’s studying habits with subjects. When first studying a subject, it is important to decide the location of knowledge intake. When studying for the final, students should be sure it is the same place they studied the subject all semester. By going to a consistent site, the brain links it to the subject being explored.

Overcoming test anxiety is important for every individual. Stay calm. Chewing bubble gum can calm the nerves by developing a stable pattern. Begin chewing before going to the testing area in order to relax before the test.

When students sit down for the test, they can try the “memory dump” method. Instead of reading through the essay questions, first, dump all the facts, dates and names on the exam to avoid forgetting them while looking over the remainder of the test.

When students want to achieve the highest potential, they can’t leave it to the last moment. Study habits begin the first day of class and people must become familiar with their ability to learn.

Spacing studying is the best solution, despite how many times someone says, “I learn best by cramming.” Human memory isn’t that efficient. Overloading the system will cause it to crash and burn, leaving crammers with that hand-gripping head position, staring blankly at the questions, hoping the answers will just come.

Utilize the reading day. Other recommendations from WebMD include getting a good night’s sleep, exercising to help sharpen thinking, eating a well-balanced meal and meditating to clear thinking and relax.

Near the end of the semester, it is important to prepare so that students can achieve the best final grade. Quite frankly, repeating a class and prolonging time in college does not have its benefits.

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Despite the overwhelming schedule students will juggle during finals, there are ways to maintain a health balance, said Amy Cutting a nurse practitioner for Student Health Services. Her tips are:

*Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.*Don’t study until you fall asleep because then you will have a harder time remembering what you have studied.*Don’t study in a bedroom-a bedroom should feel like a place away from work.*Students are highly discouraged to use things like caffeine pills and or prescription drugs such as Ritalin.*Take at least 30 minutes for a break and do something you enjoy.*Eat more fruits and veggies instead of fast foods or processed foods.*Make sure that somewhere in the day there is physical activity.*Drink warm tea and/or eat or drink something that releases tryptophan like oats, turkey, chocolate, cottage cheese, fish and peanuts.