4 Science-Backed Ways to Ace Finals
Depending on how long you've been a student, you've probably employed a number of different strategies for studying, each one bringing you closer to discovering what works best for you. Indeed, a quick search of the Internet will produce a seemingly endless list of suggestions and study tips that you can experiment with over time. But as your finals draw closer, the time to experiment has passed. You need some tried-and-true methods that you can count on to help you get the best grade possible. You need science.

The following are four evidence-based, scientifically tested study styles that can help you make the best use of your study time, and do as well as possible on your finals.

1. Sleep
Not so much a study tip as it is a life tip, getting the right amount of good sleep before your finals is the single best thing that you can do for yourself. There is a large amount of evidence suggesting that while we sleep, our brains are working to repair our bodies. Sleep can even improve memory and learning processes. Given that, avoid "all-nighters" and late-night studying that will keep you awake long after you're productive. There's no point in cramming your brain full of information if you're not going to remember any of it the next day.

2. Test yourself often
The natural thing to do before a big test is to review your materials by reading and re-reading texts, going over keywords, and using flashcards to help your memory. This, however, may not be the best use of your study time before finals. According to a theory known as the "testing effect," it may be more useful to answer quiz questions and run through practices tests than to spend hours reading textbooks. Try to gather together your old tests and quizzes from class, and use those as a study guide before your finals.

3. Come up with your own examples
One of the easiest ways to help people understand complicated concepts is to apply the concept to an example with which they are familiar, right? Wrong. According to a 2008 study, people that are taught complex concepts using abstract symbols, as opposed to real life examples, are much better able to transfer that concept to different situations and understand it fully. In light of that, rather than just looking up quick and easy examples to understand something difficult, spend a little more time with the complicated theories and concepts, and think up a variety of examples that would explain it. Then, when it comes time to articulate it in your finals, you may have a much better grasp on the idea.

4. Distribute your practice
Just as your brain needs to sleep at the end of the day, it also needs to rest periodically throughout the day. Because of this, spending long periods of time studying and testing yourself may not always be the best use of time right before your finals. Instead, break down your study time into blocks of repetitive study interspersed with short breaks in-between. If you've spent a lot of time cramming for write an essay for me in the past, learning to slow down and pace yourself can be tricky to get used to, but you are much more likely to remember what you've learned over time than by trying to take it all in at once.

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