It is really easy to lose yourself either in your activities or simply in the homework you're doing right now and forget that exams really are their own species of beast. In some classes, mostly upper division however, a single exam could make up 25-50% of your overall final grade.
Take Real Notes. At Some Point. | This is mostly based on your personality and learning type, but in some way you need to take notes. Auditory learners improve their retention when they are able to write it down or repeat/rephrase it. Whether you do it in-class or as you review the PowerPoints afterwards, it has been proven in multiple learning studies that taking notes engages another area of your brain and helps activate your long-term memory.
Glance At Your Notes Before Bed | During a discussion with my French teacher (I'm currently taking an intensive beginner's program!), she suggested looking over notes before bed because it gets your brain going - and somehow that helps your brain when you go to sleep. I'm definitely not a neurologist, but honestly, I did this before my first French exam and I really do believe it helped in some sense.
Approach Music With Caution | Instrumental music is your best friend. If you're one of those people that can tune out anything and go to sleep at the drop of the hat, then this may not apply to you. If you are not one of those people, then do not, I repeat, do not listen to songs with lyrics while studying. Even when you're not trying to, your brain will take in the lyrics and focus attention on that rather than what you are trying to study. Study smarter, not harder.
When You Look Good, You Feel Good | Trying to do homework when you're a bit too comfy in your pjs and piled under pillows, for most people, is a bad idea. Unless this is a five-alarm emergency and your quiz is due in 10 minutes, you're probably not going to be super productive. Get up out of bed, brush your teeth, fix your hair, and sure you can leave the sweatshirt on, but put some real pants on. Your body responds to its surroundings - it will be a lot harder to get into "Buckle Down and Study" mode if it feels like its in "Sleep and Do Nothing" mode.
Try to Tutor Your Friends | This, in my personal opinion, is the best way to study. If you can't explain your reasoning or method behind an answer, chances are that you don't understand as well as you think. Doing this not only shows you what you don't know, but reinforces what you do know, and you now have another person who can ask questions and make you think more critically.
Bonus Tip: SLEEP | I have said this once, twice, three times on this blog and I will never stop saying it: I don't care if you say "Sleep is for the weak/dead/old" - SLEEP IS IMPORTANT. Several studies my French professor brought up during one of our classes was that you're better off getting a good night's rest before the test. If you cram the whole night before, you're not only exhausted but your rate of retention will be extremely low in comparison to if you had studied properly. I'm in college too, I know how tempting it is to stay up until 3 a.m. every night: BUT DON'T DO IT. This is not only for your grades, but your overall well-being. If you don't take care of your health, your grades mean jack squat.
Whether it be studying for a Calculus midterm or a Theatre monologue, or even prepping for a company presentation, I think these are some of the most important things to keep in mind! If you have any extra tips, leave them down below!
Catch you next time.