Sail Through Finals with these Five Tips

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by collegelife on May 3, 2012

Study habits. We all have them, but there are five that can help you study faster, retain more information and feel less stressed about your finals this semester.

If you have questions or need more info on effective study techniques, join us on Facebook May 4th at 3:30 Central. Our guest, Alex Weiner, owner of Collegewise New York, will host a question and answer session to help you prepare for finals. Read Alex’s recent interview in Forbes here.

  1. 1.       Listen to classical music.

According to the Center for New Discoveries in Learning, music with a 60 beats per minute pattern activate the left and right brain. The stimulation of the left and right brain maximizes learning by helping you retain information.  In fact, studies have shown that learning potential was increased at least five times when participants listened to music following a 60 bpm pattern.

Keep in mind that all classical music is not created equal. The order of the music is crucial to how the brain responds. Music from the baroque and classical time periods feature orders that include patterns of rhythm, pitch and mood contrasts, and repetition and changes. Studies show that the brain performs better when a person listens to this type of ordered music.

Studies also show that music with irregular beats and shrill frequencies, like those found in hard rock music, actually reduce the brain’s ability to learn new information and retain it.

To maximize your ability to learn new information and retain it, add to your playlist the following pieces that feature ordered music with a 60 bpm pattern:

Bach’s Air on The G String, Suite Orchestra No. 3
Strauss’ The Blue Danube
Corelli’s Concerti Grossi, Opus 5
Handel’s 12 Concerti Grossi, Opus 6
Pachabel’s Conon in D Major
Vivaldi’s Guitar Concerto
Albinoni’s Oboe Concerto
Geminiani’s Concerto 9

  1. 2.       Watch what you eat.

Studies show that diets rich in fruits, veggies and fatty acids help boost memory and your brain’s ability to learn new information.

Omega-3 fatty acids books energy, enhance your learning ability, improve problem-solving skills, and books memory. Foods rich in Omega-4 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, mackerel, haibut, herring, anchovies, and sardines.

Soy improves brain development, slows memory loss, improves cognitive function, and maximizes memory recall.

Citrus and colorful fruits improve memory recall and increase blood flow to the brain. Super fruits proven to improve brain function include avocados, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, pineapples, oranges, apples, grapes, kiwi, peaches, and cherries.

Green leafy veggies like broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes, spinach, and collard greens help you retain new information.

Chocolate can help you focus and improve your concentration, so it’s a good idea to take a piece of dark chocolate with you and eat it before and during your exams.

Freshly brewed green tea has been proven to improve memory and combat mental fatigue.

  1. 3.       Get some exercise.

As little as 20 minutes of cardio a day can help boost brain function and improve your ability to retain information. Exercise also relieves stress and improves alertness.

  1. 4.       Study new material right before you go to bed.

Your brain forgets information when it is forced to learn new information. Therefore, since you do not think during deep sleep, your body is better able to retain the information you studied prior to hitting the sack.

  1. 5.       Be deliberate in the order in which you study.

Your brain can retain information about two unlike subjects better than it can retain information about two similar subjects. For example, it’s best to study Humanities and then Chemistry, rather than studying English and then Literature.

Preparing to study for finals is just as important as preparing for your finals. So before you head to the library to meet up with your study group, update your playlist on your iPod, eat right, exercise, make a study plan and keep your eye on the prize. Remember, there’s no greater feeling than walking out of a classroom knowing you aced a test that accounts for a huge percentage of your final grade!

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