Tag Archives: studying

Keeping Cool During the Heat of Finals

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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By guest blogger Tiana Bouma
Tiana is a senior at University of Oregon double majoring in Political Science and Journalism with a focus in magazine. Her hometown is now Bend, OR but she graduated from high school in Danville, CA. After graduating from UO, she plans on traveling and working for National Geographic. During her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, sports and movies.

Finals are the best and worst parts of the term. On the one hand, it means one day closer to freedom (and summer!), but it also means time catching up and cramming is beginning to dwindle. During spring term when the sun is out, the last thing any of us want to do is sit inside and read through our notes and study guides.

The best thing to do is to create a balance between losing our marbles and having a little bit of fun during some well-earned study breaks.

Take a break and play frisbee with some friends! It'll get your endorphins going and help you study. Photo by Nathan Rupert.

The easy answer to making a little time for yourself during the upcoming finals period are things we do every day that may be taken for granted

  1. Go out for coffee with friends and take it on a walk. A walk around campus, or anywhere really, will help to get the blood flowing and reduce stress. The Vitamin D in sunshine will always help to increase your mood.
  2. When you are studying try to take breaks between subjects and items on your to-do-list. Even a fifteen-minute break from a subject will restart the creative juices and allow your brain to catch a little breathing room in between all of the information.
  3. Frisbee and pick-up basketball are perfect ways to relax from studying and stress while also increasing blood flow. The exercise combined with some friendly competition will release endorphins and give you a natural energy boost that just can’t be replicated by coffee after coffee.
  4. Take some time to just lie in the sun if you aren’t feeling athletically inclined. Just as taking a walk will help give you tons of Vitamin D, so too will relaxing in the sun. The Vitamin D will help with rejuvenating your brain and will also help you to return to studying faster. Just make sure you don’t fall asleep.

Overall, the important thing to remember is that you need to fully close the books and turn off the studying part of your brain while you take a break. Reading a magazine or a novel is still a break as long as your brain isn’t working hard to comprehend the material. Getting out of your chair and moving around will also help to make the break that much more rejuvenating.

Good luck with your finals!

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The Importance of Music While Studying

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By guest blogger Stan Whitcomb
Stan is a freshman at Santa Clara University. He is currently undecided, but is leaning towards a major in computer science. He is new to the blogosphere but is a seasoned writer (thanks English class!). In his free time, he likes to Dougie with his hallamtes and he is an avid Frisbee player.

Studying can be hard. It is often boring, tedious, and mind numbing. Lucky for us, music has been linked to increased function in the part of the brain that controls the attention span. With the right music, a student can vastly improve the efficiency of their studying.

That’s right, you can actually accomplish more while listening to the right types of music than you would otherwise. It all comes down to the type of music and your ability to focus and multitask.

Photo by freefoto.com

The type of music you listens to while studying is extremely important. For one, the music cannot be super familiar. If you try to study to your favorite country album or the latest Billboard Top 100, you won’t be very successful because you will be focusing more on the music than on the studying.

The best type of music to listen to while studying is classical music. It has been shown to increase positive cognitive functions while simultaneously being non-attention grabbing. Why is classical music so good to listen to? Because it has no vocals. Words attract your attention just as movement attracts our vision. If you start listening to the lyrics of a song, you stop paying attention to the words the page. So if you need to get a couple hours of reading done, I suggest this playlist or any other classical music playlist (Pandora has some great ones; so does Spotify).

Focus and the ability to multitask play a large role in deciding whether or not you should even listen to music while your are studying. If you cannot adequately complete three or more tasks simultaneously, music may be a detriment to you simply because you will start to focus on it rather than the studying at hand. In the same sense, if you have serious problems bringing yourself to focus on the job at hand, bringing another thing into the picture could fracture your concentration. But, and this is a BIG but, music may also be the answer to the problems you are having. For instance, moderately fast music with no vocals, minimal drums and bass, and calm, relaxing tones will improve your ability to focus on your task rather than occupying your mind. Just don’t blast the music, play it softly. In essence, this background music should be like elevator music, except classier.

So when you are studying for a big test or attempting to write a paper, music can help you stay focused. Just make sure it’s not “We Are Young”by fun. or any other catchy tune that will take you off-task.

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Prepping for Graduate School Exams

Filed under: College Life, Education, Post Grad and Career - BookRenter Team
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You are in the midst of exams and your Google calendar looks busier than a MySpace homepage. Prepping for a test that counts for much more than any you’ve taken in college may sound downright nuts. Yet if you want to go straight to grad school – bypassing a 9-to-5 job or a 6-month trot around the globe – you may want to crack open that LSAT, GMAT, GRE, or MCAT book now.

That is not to say you need to kill your precious T.V. time. But familiarizing yourself with the test now, even if that means spending a couple of hours a week, will help greatly. Then, when summer is near, you won’t be starting from ground-zero prep but will already have a little momentum.

For the MCAT especially, which, of the graduate tests, is the most cumulative knowledge based, the more you can start learning the better. And the MCAT, unlike the GRE, will relate to most the classes you are taking. Both strongly emphasize critical reading skills, vocabulary (especially the GRE) and writing chops (if you’ve been writing 30-page papers the shorts essays shouldn’t be a problem!).

Nonetheless, on the whole all tests reward college students, assuming you have spent the last few years hovered over books and have the GPA to prove it. However, if you are taking the GMAT and the GRE but only took a few math courses back when you were a freshman, you will want to make sure to brush up those quant skills now. And don’t worry – no calculus. Neither test contains math beyond basic algebra and geometry.

As a college student, you also benefit from having many around you prepping for the same test. Form study groups, share prep books, or just commiserate over the scores on your practice tests.

So block out a couple of hours a week, find a study buddy and get started prepping today. When summer rolls around, up your study time to two hours per day. If necessary, take an in-class or online course with a big GRE/GMAT/LSAT company. Come October, when it is time to take a test, you will be ready to do your best!

This post was written by Christopher Lele, test prep expert at Magoosh Test Prep. You can read more of his tips and strategies on our GRE blog or GMAT blog.

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Studying Alone vs. Studying in Groups

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by Guest Blogger Laura H.

Studying alone and studying in a group both have their advantages and disadvantages. But what are the pros and cons of each?

The biggest downside to studying alone is that, well, you’re alone. A huge advantage of studying in a group is there are people around to push you through bouts of boredom or lack of inspiration when writing essays. Groups can also help you through particularly long nights of studying. If I know I have to study for more than 3 hours on one paper or test, I usually prefer to study in a group. That way, I am  able to ask those my classmates for help if I need it.

When studying, one should take at least a 5 or 10 minute break every hour. Use this time to stretch, watch a funny video on YouTube or go on a walk. It may be tempting to skip the study break and work for hours on end, but the small break every hour enables you to maintain purposeful focus for longer periods of time. Physically, your body needs a break as well; your brain will retain clarity with the break from the computer screen, and your back won’t tighten up from hours in the chair.

by Steven S.

While sitting with others can be helpful, studying alone is more advantageous when you have a very specific, deliberate task ahead of you and can’t afford to be interrupted. If, for example, you have a reading quiz in your 8 a.m. class and it’s 10 pm the night before, studying alone can help you focus on what you are reading..

Overall, the homework assignment or project may dictate with whom you work. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for your particular situation.

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Procrastination: Why it’s not always better to deal with it later

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By Guest Blogger Kayla

We are all guilty of procrastinating at some point or another in our lives regardless of how difficult the task at hand is. While it may seem like more fun to go to the beach or hang out with friends and work on that paper later, the short term relief of escaping the stress of a project backfires when you have to stay up to the wee hours of the morning to finish whatever assignment you put off in the first place. And as a college student I understand that there’s always some sort of project or paper due in the immediate future on top of studying for midterms and finals.  But don’t worry there is hope of breaking the cycle!

by scui3asteveo

After reading an article by CNN called “How to Stop Procrastinating Today!” by Amy Spencer I found three of the recommended tips they suggested the most realistic and helpful for the everyday assignments. The best three pieces of advice they gave was:

  1. Do the worst thing first
  2. Make the Job Smaller
  3. Don’t Interrupt Yourself

If you can manage to do even one of these three things then you are already better off then when you started because the key to stopping procrastination is balance. If you can balance fun time and responsibilities then chances are you will be less stressed and a more productive person overall.

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