Throughout my four years at Ohio State, I’ve learned some pretty unusual methods for studying (mostly because I was Googling “how to study better” when I should have been actually studying). If you’re looking for some ways to improve your performance that don’t involve actual studying, here are the methods that have worked for me over the years.
Eat broccoli: I found this tip in sophomore year while researching the best foods that stimulate the brain. Several studies since 2007 show that broccoli is effective at repairing and renewing neuro-connections, which means that it helps move the neuro-connections from short-term to long-term memory. It also protects the brain from injury and reduces the risk of developing age-related dementia. Some other “brain” foods include eggs, nuts, yogurt, fruit, and dark chocolate.
Drink lots of water: This is a universal statement that applies all the time, even outside of exams. Not drinking enough water before and during an exam, however, can have a serious impact because it causes you to lose your concentration and even feel faint. According to the BBC, students who drink water during an exam are likely to score 5% better than students who do not. Just make sure you don’t drink all of the water right before an exam, because then you’ll have to step out to go to the bathroom. Also, be sure to drink actual water and not a ton of energy drinks and coffee.
Chew gum: Not only will chewing gum freshen your breath (very important when taking an exam in jam-packed lecture halls) but it also helps boost mental performance. Some psychologists say that chewing gum can help improve memory and enhance cognitive powers because it increases the glucose level, which is body and mind fuel. Plus, when you’re tired an activity, the taste will keep you awake.
Write your study guides in Times New Roman: There’s a reason why Times New Roman is one of the most (if not the most) popular font – it’s the fastest and easiest font to read. In research tests, Times New Roman is 7.45% faster to read than the second easiest-to-understand font, Verdana (which is 3.45% faster than Ariel).
Study in different places: Studies show that varying the study setting helps you encode information differently and understand it on a deeper level. After a while of looking over the same materials in the same location, studying becomes less about understanding and more about brute memorization. By moving places when studying, information retention is improved. Studying in new, unfamiliar places makes the information new again. Better yet, moving locations involves exercise, which experts also say can significantly boost performance. If you prefer to stay in the library, make use of all the libraries OSU has to offer.
Of course, there are the tried-and-true study hacks, such as eating right and exercising. It may also be beneficial to eat a multivitamin to stimulate the brain. Taking short, repeated breaks helps focus the brain, and studying related subjects together can increase retention and understanding. Some professors have also advised not to study the day of the exam, because cramming at the last minute can cause you to override the material you already know (strangely enough, I have found that if I study one thing too much I begin to forget it).
Above all, however, remember that your health comes first. Pulling repeated all-nighters, guzzling gallons of caffeine, and eating junk food for an exam are all not worth it if it causes significant health problems later on. If you take care of your body (including getting enough sleep), the brainpower you need will surely follow. Best of luck to my fellow Buckeyes in exam week!