10 Next-Level Study Tips for Acing Tests

By Caleigh Propes

Sometimes studying can be rewarding, but usually it’s just really tiring! Most of us dread those hours going over facts for a history exam or working out problems for a math quiz. Use the tips below to make studying just a little bit easier, and see your confidence skyrocket!

1. Make a Playlist

While jamming to your favorite top 40 songs might make studying more fun, studies show that classical music is actually better to listen to while studying. Try making a playlist of softer piano or string quartet pieces to make you relaxed and give your brain a boost while studying. Also, putting in your headphones will block out any outside noises that could be distracting you. 

2. Consider Your Timing

Think about your own habits. Are you a nocturnal night owl or an eager early riser? Both have benefits—early risers may have more energy, but night owls often have study spaces to themselves. Use your own natural rhythms to your advantage, and plan your studying around when you work best. This may mean getting up earlier or sleeping in later, so make sure you prepare by getting adequate rest the night before a big day of studying.

3. Eat Brain Food, Not Junk Food

Eating while studying can be the best thing ever, but it depends on what you choose to nosh on. Some foods are great study snacks that can keep you energized, while others will make you feel sluggish and heavy. Try eating snacks like air-popped popcorn, fruits and vegetables, and nuts to get the boost you need. Avoid candy, chips, and other empty calories that will make you crash. If you need some caffeine, try green tea. It is full of anti-oxidants and won’t leave you crashing like sugary lattes or energy drinks.

4. Check Online for Materials

If you are taking a class with a lot of other students, it is likely that some of them have posted study resources online, especially if this course is offered year after year. These materials could help compliment your own notes or resources. Also, you can always be proactive and reach out to friends in your class to make a shared study guide.  

5. Cite Sources AS You Study

For any project that requires academic sources (like a research paper), be smart about how you handle them and keep a list of sources from the start. It’s easiest to make a bibliography and add to it as you go along, rather than waiting until the end when you may forget an in-text citation or accidentally lose track of a source. Websites like BibMe are great for making citations in APA, MLA, Chicago style format, and other styles.

6. Use Website Blockers

It’s super easy to lose time looking through Instagram or your Facebook feed when you should really be studying. If you’re guilty of this, try using a website blocker app on your computer. You can set which websites you want to block and for how long. You are sure to have a more productive study session if you unplug for a little while, so give this a try if you need just a little nudge to keep yourself on track. Keeping your phone out of reach helps too! 

7. Don’t Study in Your Bed or on Your Couch

Your room can be a really convenient place to study. After all, it’s your home away from home! However, nothing is more tempting during a full day of studying than a nap, and staying away from your bed while studying can prevent you from a three-hour detour. Studies even show that students that study in their beds are more likely to have lower GPAs! 

8. Set Goals

If you have a big exam coming up, it is important to plan out your studying. Think at least a week in advance, and pencil in times each day with specific benchmarks for your progress. For example, you may want to study three concepts a day or one chapter a day, depending on how your course is broken up. Setting goals and planning in advance will give you confidence, ensure that you have all of the material covered, and keep you from scrambling at the last second.

9. Know When to Study With Friends

Studying with friends can be great! However, it might be better to spend your first few days studying alone, making sure to master each concept. When you feel more confident, consider making a study group to review all of the concepts a few days before a big test. Here, each person can try to explain a concept to the group. After all, the best way to know if you have a topic mastered is to see if you can explain it! Think about choosing classmates with similar work ethics, even if you aren’t best friends. This will help you stay on track and work hard without the distraction of a friend who is a little bit behind you in their progress.

10. Go the Extra Mile

Teachers often hold review sessions or office hours before tests, so make sure to put these dates in your calendar and attend if possible. Teachers are also usually open to meeting with students one-on-one or answering questions via email, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Studying on your own is not always enough, and with the expert at your disposal, don’t be shy! Go the extra mile and use any bonus opportunities to your advantage.

If you’ve got a big test in your future, don’t freak. Studying is a process that can be long and daunting, but once you’ve got it down, it’s so rewarding. With these strategies and a positive attitude, you are sure to ace your next exam and make yourself proud.

Writing instead of studying? Get a little writing help with the grammar and plagiarism checker available with BibMe Plus! If you’re still in the beginning stages of writing, brush up on grammar with our guides on prepositional phrases, possessive pronouns, interjections, and other parts of speech.