Studying Survival Tips

It’s been a challenging semester and the end is in sight. In the rush to prepare it’s easy to forget some basics that can help you better manage the upcoming weeks. Test yourself to see if you are ready. Give yourself 10 points for every “yes” answer:

1. I get enough sleep and wake up refreshed.

2. I take a catnap during the day if I need it.

3. My diet is nutritious and has limits on fast foods.

4. I manage my stress effectively with self-soothing techniques: take a warm shower; stretch to relieve tensions; or do some deep breathing in a quiet place to relax.

5. I avoid alcohol/drugs.

6. I use Student Health Services early rather than letting an illness interfere with my academic success.

0 – 10 points: OK . . . you’ve got a way to go, but it’s not too late! These tips will help you get on the right-track.

20 – 30 points: You’re getting there! Keep reading for extra tips.

40 – 50 points: Alright, you know everything! But, it never hurts to review—read on . . .



  • Start as EARLY as possible. If you tend to procrastinate, challenge your excuses. Cramming is counterproductive.
  • Get a good night sleep. “All-nighters” do more damage than good. Studies show that lack of sleep can reduce your test- taking effectiveness by as much as 25%.
  • Know your best time for studying…morning? night? Use the non-productive times to take those needed breaks.
  • Eat well. Healthy eating maintains energy levels and helps with concentration. Include energy-packed foods such as yogurt, cheese and crackers, tuna, veggies, hummus and trail mix.
  • Avoid the “Body Crunch.” Good ergonomics at the computer, desk, or wherever you do your work maximizes your efforts.
  • Avoid alcohol and large amounts of caffeine. Alcohol slows your brain functions. Caffeine in excess can lead to sugar craving and sleeplessness.
  • Balance your mind-body connection. You have the ability to manage your frustrations. If you feel overwhelmed, stop and regroup. Your thoughts are powerful tools.


  • Exercise—Take some time during study breaks to walk, run, dance, or whatever it takes to get the blood flowing and the lungs pumping. It’ll help relieve tension and increase your ability to focus.
  • Nutrition—Keep your brain in top form with well balanced meals that include dark green leafy veggies, whole grains, and fish or eggs. Go easy on the sugar. Mens sana in corpore sano: a healthy mind in a healthy body.
  • Rest—Don’t let fatigue set in. Take mental and physical breaks through cat naps, meditation, or focused breathing exercises. And be sure to get a good night’s sleep before the exam!
  • Good Ergonomics—Ergo what? It shouldn’t be all Greek to you: it’s all about fitting the working environment to you, rather than the other way around.



  • Keep it Neutral. Neutral posture is the body’s natural resting position and puts the least pressure on nerves, tendons, muscles and bones.
  • Chuck the “tuck.” If you tend to rest your feet on the chair base or tuck them under the chair, you may be in for trouble. Sit back in your chair with your legs flat on the floor to improve circulation and provide body support. If     your feet are dangling, lower your chair or use a footrest.
  • Avoid “Laptop-itis.” Extensive laptop use can wreak havoc on your neck. Elevate the laptop so that the top of the screen is at eye level, then use an external mouse and keyboard at about lap level.
  • Prevent “Bug-eye Burnout.” Staring at your monitor for too long can tire out eye muscles and lead to eyestrain and head- aches. Give your eyes a rest by focusing on a distant object about every 20 minutes. And remember to blink!
  • Keep moving! Take mini breaks wherever you are. Periodic stretches or just getting up and moving around can reduce tension, improve circulation, and relieve muscle stress.