The time we’ve all been waiting for has arrived: prelim season is finally here at Cornell. Whether you’re a newbie (like me) or a seasoned veteran of the Cornell prelim system, the sight of a prelim on your academic horizon likely fills you with more anxiety than you could possibly imagine. To help you get through your next dreaded exam, here are several ways you can get the most out of your study time:
1Break it up
While marathon study sessions in Olin might be a way of life at Cornell, it’s always a good idea to take set breaks while you work. Studies have shown that you absorb information better if you take a short break for every 30-60 minutes that you spend studying. While taking a study break, it can be helpful to eat a snack, read something not related to class, or just generally decompress. Remember not to go over your set break time, and avoid the temptation of checking social media during breaks.
While studying, try rewarding yourself with things you enjoy as motivators. For example, every half hour spent actually studying is ten extra minutes of Netflix, fifteen more minutes of nap time, or an extra scoop of Dairy Bar ice cream later.
3Study with a group
Find a group of people in your class that you can work with to split larger tasks into more manageable parts. You can work together to summarize readings, re-write notes for a study guide, or ask each other about topics you don’t understand. You can also work as a group to keep each other focused and on task, as long as you all don’t wind up spending hours scrolling through memes on Facebook.
4Designate a spot
Studying in your living space isn’t always the best move because of factors like noise level and access to distractions like your phone, computer, and snacks. When studying, help yourself out by picking spots that help you concentrate, and designate those as your go-to study spots. Not only will they improve your focus, but they’ll help you create a routine specifically for studying.
5Only bring what you need
Wherever you study, the success of that session is also dependent on your ability to not distract yourself. One way to avoid this pitfall is to only bring what you need to your study spot. If you don’t need your computer, try leaving it behind so you can’t distract yourself with it. If you do need it, download apps like Self Control that let you create a list of distracting websites and blacklist them for a time period of your choosing so you have no choice but to get work done.
Though studying is an unfortunately necessary occurrence, it doesn’t have to be a long one. If you set yourself up for success and work efficiently, you can get more out of the time you do have to spend with your nose to the grindstone while spending less time as a prisoner of the library overall.