1. Make a to-do list.
Do it wherever is most convenient: on your phone, in an agenda or date book, on a post-it note. If your notes are stored on your phone, make sure you have a back up, in case iCloud decides to throw a fit and delete everything from it. I doubt your eighty-year old History professor will take “my phone screwed me over!”as an excuse for not completing that essay.
Make sure you write that list on something you’ll look at all the time. Write it and then use it as a coaster for your morning cup o’joe…you can still read through a little coffee stain, right? Shove it into the back pocket of your jeans so that it stays with you all day. You’ll definitely remember to look at it before it goes through the washer two or three times.
Maybe even think about writing some stuff on your to-do list that you’ve already done. That way, you have some things finished right off the bat, and that’ll give you the little boost in motivation you need to get started on the rest of that stuff. Or, an excuse to sit back down on the couch and claim, “I did enough today. There’s always tomorrow!”
2. Study with a group.
Everyone knows that you get more done when you work with others. Grab a pizza and head over to the library or local student hotspot. Make sure it’s somewhere where there’s a lot of people. Ambient noise really helps your mind focus, and you and your friends yelling over the background voices will really help strengthen the neuronal connections in your head. Make sure to allot yourselves at least five hours of studying, because you won’t get to any real studying until after the first two, at least.
Have at least one deadbeat friend in the group. You know who I’m talking about—the guy that never has anything but a (broken) pencil on him, and when you look back and see him during lecture, he’s either drooling, face-down on his desk, or scrolling through Yik-Yak. Giving him your notes and teaching him everything from the past two weeks of the course will give you the opportunity to really see how much you know. And, you’ll be helping out a friend at the same time.
3. Use your resources.
Dust off that Psychology textbook you haven’t opened since the beginning of the semester. Doing a quick cursory read-through of five chapters will most certainly give you the information you need to ace that exam tomorrow. It’s a good idea to do this at or around midnight—that’s when you’re in the right state of mind to absorb the most amount of information. A lot of sugary foods and drinks facilitate this, so try drinking a Coke or eating some gummy worms while you study. Oh, and make sure to catch up on all those readings you put off until the night before as well.
Go over your notes as well. Try to read that chicken scratch handwriting—is that an ‘o’or a ‘q’? What’s that word, ‘quit’? Or does it say ‘out’, and then my hand seized at the end? Maybe my muscles are failing because I’ve slept a total of 4 hours in the past two days…
Try emailing your professor or TA if you have any questions. Preferably, you’ll email them a few days before the exam to give them time to reply, but if you’re short on time, I’m sure 11 pm the night before is fine, too. Send that email twice if they don’t answer within 15 minutes.
So, gather up your Doritos and head to the library with your notes and your group of study buddies. Success in college is all about knowing what you’re doing—with this list, you’ll at least have some sort of idea…maybe.