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6 Tips for Effective Studying During Midterms

Woody Allen once said that 80 per cent of success is just showing up. He might not have been talking about college life at the time, but it certainly applies. It’s no secret that students who show up to class, do all of the readings, and study every week will have an easier time of things come exam season, but let’s be honest here, sometimes life just gets in the way. Maybe you have a job, maybe you have bad time management skills, or maybe you just thought you could wing it, but one way or another, many a student has found themselves in the unfortunate position of having to learn a large amount of material in a small amount of time. Luckily for all of you last minute studiers out there, we here at OOHLALA are dedicated to improving your college experience in every way we can. We can’t take your test for you, of course, but we can do the next best thing: get you ready. Follow these six simple study rules, and you’ll be rocking those midterms in no time.

1- No All-Nighters

This is a big one. Every student, at one point or another, has had to stay up all night, cram themselves full of caffeine, and just keep working. It’s inevitable; sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But the fact is, by staying up all night studying, you’re actually doing more harm than good. Sleep is essential to the human brain’s ability to process and recall information, essential skills for someone who is about to take an exam. Think of it this way: if you stay up all night studying, you might get to read those extra chapters, but you won’t be able to remember any of it when it counts anyway. If you get a good night’s sleep, on the other hand, at least you’ll be able to remember the stuff that you do know!

2-  Location, Location, Location

As much as you might want to study at home on the couch in your favorite pair of sweats, or at the local coffee shop while sipping a latte, it’s actually counter-productive. First of all, the places you like to go are filled with distractions. Your TV, your fridge, and all of the people at the local fair trade café are giving you something else to focus on besides the information in front of you, and that’s what leads to boredom, frustration, and trouble concentrating. Besides that, there’s also something called ‘state-bound memory’. What that essentially means is, if you learn something when you’re upset, it will be easier to remember it while you’re upset, because your brain has to form the same patterns of neurons to access that memory. So unless your exam is going to be taking place in your living room, you might be better off in a slightly more scholarly environment like the library.

3-  Make A Schedule And Stick To It

It will be easier to convince yourself to study if you make time for it in advance. Get out your phone, open OOHLALA, and check your schedule for some free blocks of time. Click ‘add event,’ set that time aside for studying, and be sure to set a reminder so that there’s no weaseling out of it when the time comes. Now that you’ve set the time aside, make sure you take short breaks every 60 to 90 minutes to give your brain a rest. That way your mind won’t wander, you’ll be less dependant on caffeine to increase your concentration, and you’ll learn more in what precious little time you’ve got.

4-  Practice Active Learning

There’s a reason that it’s hard for most of us to retain information from readings alone, and that’s because we had no active role in the learning itself. If you get a little more involved in the process, you’ll find it much easier to retain information. Active learning techniques can range from tricks as simple as practice tests, flash cards, and explaining the material to a friend, to more complex methods like the SQ3R technique. SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review, and it’s been a favorite of academics for decades.

Check out the video below to learn more.

5- Resist Temptation

A lot of people like to listen to music, or put the television on for background noise while they study. But like we talked about before, our brains’ state-bound memory means that you’re really just making things harder for yourself. Bite the bullet, head to the library, and take out the ear buds. It’s easier to work when you’re surrounded by quiet people doing the same. You should also resist the urge to cram before a test. By all means make yourself some notes to go over to make sure things are fresh in your mind, but if you try to stuff your brain full of new facts right before walking into the exam, all you’re doing is increasing your last minute panic, and that’s no good for anyone. Practice some deep breathing exercises, stay calm, and you’ll be surprised just how much you remember!

6- Keep It In Perspective

The biggest enemy of good study habits is procrastination. It’s always tempting to say “I’ll do it tomorrow,” when it’s time to get to work, but when the urge to ignore your responsibilities strikes, just remember your long term goals. Where do you want to be in ten years? What job do you want? How much do you want to be earning? Remembering the big picture can help us remember why we’re putting ourselves through the stress and panic and boredom of exam season, and make it just that much easier to get through those Saturday night study sessions.

Procrastination plagues every single college student! It's such a central theme in college that an awesome music video was made out of it! Check out music the video by Colin Response.

Hopefully you found some useful advice on our list, and it helps you nail those pesky midterms. Good luck from OOHLALA!


  1. All six Health Tips works and have to follow it! The post containing good material!
    Thanks for the post!

  2. it's surely hard to study during midterms especially the amount of stress that is put on college students. Good article thou