Unconventional studying tips: when all else fails, make sure you don’t

Everyone has one — a study habit or routine that they swear by; one that helps them retain information and ace exams. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried hundreds of these so-called studying “lifesavers” at the recommendation of your friends or peers. Sometimes, however, the end result is not an A in a class or a perfect score on a quiz, but a realization that what works for your lab partner or classmate may not be the best option for you. As midterms loom just around the corner and studying mode kicks into high gear, here are some studying hacks to try if your go-to methods simply aren’t cutting it.

 

Snack smarter

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is so easy to forget how much food impacts academic performance, especially when you stay up all night studying and get those midnight cravings. While it may be easier to reach for a bag of chips or a microwave dinner during your cram session, filling your body with the right kinds of food can make a big impact on your study time. Try putting down junk foods and reaching instead for healthy snacks that help improve brain function, enhance memory and boost overall performance. Foods like almonds, trail mix, veggies and hummus, greek yogurt and even dark chocolate — if you’re craving something sweet — can give you the boost of energy you need to power through midterms week. Eating foods that are high in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals will help you curb your cravings and avoid the sugar crash that you can have with junk foods.

 

Choose your font wisely

Believe it or not, there is a reason that professors prefer Times New Roman 12 on papers and assignments. According to the American Writers and Artists Institute, Times New Roman and other serif fonts are widely believed to be the easiest to read on paper, making it the ideal font to use if you need to quickly go over your class notes. On the other hand, according to the Harvard Business Review, reading information written in more difficult to read type might help with recall. If you are still in the process of learning and retaining information, using an unfamiliar font can help make information stick. Your brain is more likely to skim over material typed in a familiar font, so using a bold new font can enhance the chances of you retaining the information.

 

Use your senses

Using your senses to your advantage can also enhance your studying success. Try integrating smell into your study routine by spraying a new perfume or using a new essential oil when you study. This can help your brain associate the information you are learning with that specific smell, and smelling the same scent on exam day can help you to recall the facts. The same is true for taste. Chewing a stick of the same flavored gum while you are studying and during an exam can help you to remember what you studied.

Photo: M. Ragland

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