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Sophomore Emily Gilbertson finds a warm place to study in Lagomarcino Hall November 12 drinking some coffee.

The most wonderful time of year can also be the most stressful time for college students as final exams approach. But preparing for finals doesn't have to ruin the holiday season with these study tips.

One of the hardest parts students face when studying for finals is getting started, avoid procrastinating and cramming the night before. According to the American Psychological Association, between 80 and 95 percent of college students procrastinate.

“The most important thing to remember is don’t wait to be motivated,” said Robert Hessling, professor of psychology at Iowa State. “Many things we have to do aren’t fun and aren’t going to be interesting, we just have to do them, and you will find out it’s not as unpleasant as you thought it would be.”

As tempting as procrastination may be, there are no positive effects of putting off work and studying. Hessling said that research has shown again and again that students who procrastinate don’t perform as well and get lower grades and GPA’s.

“You may think you work well under pressure, but you don’t,” Hessling said.

Hessling said there are ways to change this ongoing habit of procrastination. The main thing is getting started regardless of how students feel about studying but also should be prepared to be fail.

“You have to think about all the things that could go wrong to prevent you from doing what you’re trying to do and plan for those,” Hessling said. “You have to make a plan to make it so you keep working on whatever you’re working on.”

There are many effective strategies and tips to make studying for finals easier and more efficient. According to the Academic Success Center, the center advises students to always take active notes that they can review after class is done.

The academic success center also suggests that it's not good to study too much at once, as you will get tired and the studying will become ineffective. Students should also study at the same time each day so it becomes like a routine.

Setting goals is a good way to help students stay focused on their work as well as see how much they have accomplished.

The best way to get assignments done is to work on the hardest assignments first. These assignments will need more effort and brain energy and completing them first will ensure that students have the mental strength to get it done.

Additionally, cell phones can be a large distraction to getting work done. The best thing to do to fight the urge of checking your phone every time it lights up and interrupting your study time is to schedule breaks to look at texts and social media.

For more study tips and tricks, visit the Iowa State Academic Success Center website or at the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center.

Quick Study Tips

  • Schedule study times and stick to them

  • Get the hardest assignments done first

  • Plan cell phone breaks

  • Get help from other classmates when needed and join study groups

  • Set realistic and specific goals for studying

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