Music, snacks and tips to improve studying this school year

Spotify playlists, dark chocolate and more

Back-to-school time means another bout of cramped wrists and strained eyes from the countless hours of notetaking many students will take on between now and final exams.

Although a 2013 article by the New York Post suggests full-time college students are spending a lot less time studying than their grandfathers did, one-fifth of those students are also working at least 35 hours a week.

The Internet is loaded with tips on how to maximize your brain power and turn the art of studying into a science. Everything from what you eat to which music is on in the background can make the difference between a perfect study session and a waste of precious hours.

Study tips are easy to find with a quick Google search but we’ve compiled several practices recommended by leading websites devoted to surviving life on campus.

Buzzfeed.com recommended several offbeat study tips, including using scents to jog your memory. The website’s “17 Unexpected Studying Hacks” included spraying an unfamiliar scent while you study, then again as you’re about to take the test, claiming the aroma will help your memory. They also suggested using free downloadable computer apps like Cold Turkey (PC) or Self Control (Mac) to block distracting websites for a set period of time.

Collegefashion.net recommended coming up with a study plan before cracking your books and staying organized. “Set yourself a timetable for when you can study, and break up the material you need to review into manageable chunks you can tackle at once,” according to the website’s “10 Tips for Better Study Habits This Semester.”

USA Today’s “Campus Life” section suggested students study right before bedtime in order to aid retention. “During sleep, the brain strengthens new memories, so there’s a good chance we’ll remember whatever we review right before dozing off,” the publication wrote. The 2012 article, titled “23 science-backed study tips to ace a test,” also recommended staring a wall for a few minutes before studying because meditation can reduce anxiety and boost your attention span.

On the other hand, some popular study habits may be having the opposite effect on final grades. Hercampus.com posted an article last year titled “6 Study Habits That Could Be Hurting Your Grade,” which discouraged cramming for a test, multitasking while studying and simply rereading the textbook. “By utilizing numerous active study strategies such as talking over the concepts with classmates … you will be able to check that you truly understand the material,” the article stated.

 

Sometimes the way you study is only as effective as the comforts surrounding your work environment. Snacks are a good way to reward yourself for successful studying and for some people, music is the perfect way to stay focused on the tedious task of reading notes.

The top foods for maximizing brain power are salmon, blueberries, blackberries, dark chocolate and whole grains such as oatmeal, according to the University of Phoenix. Health experts attest that those foods won’t make you feel sluggish and will improve blood flow to the brain. Drinks that improve brain function include black coffee as well as black and green teas.

Buzzfeed.com also put together a list of interesting snacks that are meant to help improve a study session.

Several free online music services including Pandora and Spotify offer playlists or radio stations designed to accompany studying. Here are several Spotify playlists that will help you power through a few hours of reading:

Deep Focus
Artists: Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai and Sigur Rós

Intense Studying
Artists: Bach, Mozart and Philip Glass

Brain Food
Artists: Daft Punk, Massive Attack, Pretty Lights

Perfect Concentration
Artists: Composers include Chopin and Liszt, performers include Kronos Quartet and Yo-Yo Ma.

Homework Tunes
Artists: Instrumental versions of popular songs by Beyoncé, Dr. Dre and Lorde

Follow this writer on Twitter @MrClintDavis.

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