Finals are here. It’s the moment you’ve prepared for all semester — and the specter that haunts what little sleep you’re getting lately. Your life is a strange mix of anticipation and preparation; summer’s almost here but you’ve got one big hurdle to jump first. Or more likely, you have three to five hurdles, depending on your courseload.
So if you’re like us, you’re in an unbroken loop of studying, caffeinating, and daydreaming about beaches and barbecues. And we’re guessing you’ve gotten plenty of study and test prep under your belt this year…at least we hope so. So we won’t waste you’re precious time. Let’s get right to the point.
This is just a quick brush-up on good study habits (and study music), the kind that should put you in the right state of mind for crushing your exams, nailing your take-home essays, and absolutely owning finals. It’s time to be a closer.
So first, we’ve got some rapid-fire tips, and then we’ll get right to the music.
Avoid Distracti … hey, what’s that?
Find a place that makes you feel focused, studious, and free from disruption. Stay away from crowded restaurants, monster truck rallies, or Rush concerts. (That last one, by the way, is a rule for life, not just for studying.)
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
What do you hope to accomplish? Is this just a refresher or do you have some catching up to do? Do you need a quick review of the material or do you intend to read a semester’s worth of text over the next 72 hours? No judgment. Just figure out, realistically, where you are and where you need to be. This should help you determine whether you need to peruse, cram, or disappear into a deep, dark hole with your books and a few days worth of survival rations.
Say Stuff Out Loud
Not just any stuff. The stuff you’re studying. Reciting key facts, definitions, and concepts out loud can help create context and lasting meaning. Granted, if you’re muttering organic chemistry equations aloud, it could be annoying to your fellow library patrons, so look for a private space for this portion of your studying.
Find a Study Buddy
Or you can find a person or persons to study with. That way, when you say stuff out loud, people won’t think you’re nuts. Conversing with others, sharing knowledge, and collaborating in the study process can not only strengthen your grasp on the material, but now there’s somebody around to spritz water in your face during those wee hours when you’re struggling to stay awake.
It probably won’t come as a huge surprise that one of the best ways to practice for a test is to practice testing. Again, this is better with a study buddy or group, but the key is to find different ways of exploring the essential material. Use flash cards and online practice exams. If your test is one of those blue book essays, you might even consider writing a practice essay. This can help you get your thoughts in order before you’re writing under the shadow of a ticking clock.
Now’s the time get help on any concepts that remain unclear. If something hasn’t clicked, this is your last chance to ask a professor, T.A., or tutor. Ask questions, engage in discussions, and fill in the blanks. This is also a pretty good way to show your professor or grader that you’re engaged in the subject matter, even if you’re still solidifying your understanding. That level of commitment may be a consideration in your final grade.
Keep Calm & Take Breaks
Get up and stretch. Grab a shot of fresh air. Open the window and scream profanities. Whatever keeps you emotionally alkalized. Of course, time is tight, and you feel a sense of urgency. We get it. Just don’t let that urgency turn to anxiety.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, if all the information rattling around in your head has jumbled together, if you’re so tired that it takes you three read-throughs to comprehend every sentence, stop what you’re doing. Get up, shake it out, jog in place, run out to the Kwik-E-Mart for a Slushy, blast at least one song at top volume that makes you feel like you could punch a hole through a dump truck. (I usually like Rage Against Machine, the Stooges or John Denver. Seriously, I promise, John Denver will make you want to punch a dump truck.)
Whatever song you choose, it’s just for venting, for getting it all out of your system so you can return to your studies with a clear head. And for that, we highly recommend a playlist that fits both your mood and mode, your study prerogatives, and your sonic preferences.
Listen to the Right Tunes
If you like carefully curated musical experiences to go with your study time, then have we got a gift for you. Treat your ears and your brain to not one, nor two, but four distinct playlists all designed to create the kind of learning environment that works best for you.
Below are four playlists made to match your study needs at any given point in the day. Start your morning with Coffee Shop, a rich, dark blend of folk rock, acoustic guitar, and FM Lite. Spend an energizing afternoon in the company of music’s greatest scholars with Jazz Brunch.
For an evening of adventure, dig Around the World in 6 Hours, a heady bunch of non-English tunes to jog your brain cells without the distraction of unwanted linguistic comprehension. From Afro-Cuban jazz and French dream pop to Nigerian soul and weird, groovy Krautrock, there’s a lot going on here, with nary an English word to muck up your brain-flow. (Not sure if “brain-flow” is an actually thing, but you catch my drift.)
And for when the clock strikes 2 a.m., when it feels like your eyelids are melting down your face, check out Cramming. This is study music done hot and heavy: instrumental rock, blues guitar, surf tunes, and fusion, all with the hammer down. Put this on when you need a kick in the ear. Warning, this one might get a little weird.
That’s one long day of studying, so we’ve created 24 hours of music — four playlists to be listened to in sequence — for a marathon day of studying.
Or listen to it all at random, whenever you feel like it. That’s really none of our business. However you listen, we hope it helps you rock out your finals and cruise into summer on a natural high.
And without further delay, music to get your synapses crackling.
AROUND THE WORLD IN 6 HOURS