As the end of September is beginning to approach and students are noticing the calendar pages flipping, the first, or second, maybe even third exam might be lurking on the horizon. For upper level college students, many have gotten the hang of exam taking. For the college freshman, here are a few tips to help avoid stress during exam weeks and successfully study for exams.

Tip #1:Get organized
The first step to exam taking is knowing when the exam will be. Get a planner or calendar that allows you to see and take note of exams in the week and upcoming weeks. Having a planner can also help one to set specific study times, classes, tutoring, etc. The planner/calendar will help you organize your time and prepare for the exam.

Tip #2:Find a quiet place to study
For many freshman, the first year of college means dorm life. Dorm life means that there are people around 24/7 and not everyone in the dorm will be running on the same schedule. Finding a quiet, secluded, space to study will allow one to focus more. A good place to look for is a quiet nook in the library or quiet area of a classroom building. Sometimes studying with friends might not be the best way to study. Go to a place where your friends might not find you, and bother you.

Tip #3:Turn your cell phone/iPod/TV/computer off
Believe it or not, Facebook is NOT a study tool. Tweeting to your friends about review problems and answers isn’t quite effective either. TURN IT OFF. Turning off your cell phone/ipod/TV/computer allows for less distractions. Most of the time, all you need is your book, a highlighter, notebook, and a good cup of coffee. If you worry that people will be trying to get a hold of you, update your Facebook status telling your friends you are studying and you will be unavailable for a trip to the cafe, but maybe after the exam is over.

Tip #4:Learn to say NO
Opportunities are perpetually lurking on a college campus. In a dorm full of hundred of kids, getting an invite to hang out isn’t usually hard to find. The hardest thing to say to a friend might be, “No”. If you have an exam in the morning and you know that you do not understand the information being tested over like the back of your hand, declining an invitation to a late-night trip to Wal-Mart would be in your best interest. No is a word in our vocabulary, DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE IT. There will always be another opportunity to play video games. In college, you only get one opportunity to take a test. Learn how to say no at the right time.

Tip #5:Study more than 1 day in advance
Some people learn better when they “cram” for exams. Rarely does a student not benefit from studying a couple of days in advance. Allow yourself some time in your schedule to study and review your notes for the exam. Reading or rereading the assigned reading assignments might be boring, but beneficial. The professors assign the readings for a reason. Organize your notes, retype them, review them. By giving yourself a few days to soak the information in, the day before the exam might not be so hectic.

Tip #6:Get sleep
Sleep is essential, especially when it comes to exam week. Getting the proper sleep the night before the exam is especially important, but throughout the week as well. If you know that you are already exhausted in a regular day after getting only 7 hours asleep, adding more studying into the equation can take even more energy out of you. When you have enough energy, it is easier to focus on what you are studying. What college student doesn’t love getting a couple of extra hours of sleep anyways??

Tip #7:Take study breaks
We are not robots, so sitting for hours looking at pages and pages of readings and notes is not exciting. By allowing yourself to take short and frequent study breaks, information will be retained more than if a student were to study for hours straight through the night. Study for an hour, take a short 10 minute break (check your Facebook if you must, send a tweet, update your location on foursquare), but get right back to serious study mode. By giving your brain a break, you can remember more of what you have learned.

Tip #8:Add free-time to your schedule
College is a serious place. It can make you or break you. College can introduce you to your best friends, show you places you want to go, and help you find out who you want to be. The purpose of college is not solely to immerse yourself in textbooks and notebooks. There are tons of opportunities, so get out there and take one!! You can’t take life too seriously, have fun, laugh often, and put yourself around friends you enjoy. Leave some space in your planner for some free-time for yourself or to spend time with friends. You will be less stressed and have a smile on your face.

Do you have any de-stressing tips for fellow college students? If so, we want to hear them!
Kat VonD
I am reading Mathematical Applications