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5 Trusted Tips for Acing Finals

​Final exams are like a marathon. You need to train (and stretch) your mind before the race begins. Notice the key word is train. Not strain. Final exams are often worth more than half your grade, so you'll want to truly prepare. 

Here are five trusted tips for acing your final. We'd wish you luck, but you won't need it when you use these strategies.​ 

1. Create mental matches

Associate what you are studying with an image you can easily visualize. This will help lock the information in your memory. For example, maybe you learned in your government class that the U.S Constitution is the oldest and shortest written constitution in the world and was created in 1787. It is the supreme law in the U.S.

To remember this, imagine a 17-year-old trapped in an 87-year-old man's body (1787). He is the oldest man in the world, but also the shortest. In his hands he holds a supreme burrito. It may seem silly, but it works. The more extreme or exaggerated the image, the better!

2. Learn by teaching

If you truly understand a concept, you should be able to explain it to others. Consider gathering stuffed animals or framed family photos as your audience – maybe even some throw pillows. Now, teach your "star pupils" what you know. Repeating concepts out loud will help your work through any gray areas and solidify the material in your memory.

Have something you can't explain fully? Review your notes and call classmates with any questions. Or, visit your professor during office hours to get help in filling your knowledge gaps.

3. Manage your time wisely

Study for 30 to 50 minutes followed by a 10 minute break. This break gives your short-term memory time to let the information sink in. It also gives you a chance to move around and get that blood flowing back to your brain. Use your 10 minute break periods for physical activities and eating.

Avoid playing video games, watching movies or browsing Facebook. Chances are these engaging activities will extend your break far past the recommended 10 minutes. Also, they require more brain power than simply taking a walk or playing with the dog.

4. Wear a watch

Keep track of time while you study by wearing a watch. Checking the time on your phone can lead to distractions and stop you from working efficiently. When it comes time for the final exam, wear your watch to class. It will help you keep a healthy pace. Also, it's highly unlikely the professor will allow you to keep your phone handy.

5. Get some sleep

In addition to drinking plenty of water, rest is the number one way to prepare your brain for finals. Staying hydrated will help you maintain a high level of energy and cognitive function. Doctors recommend eight to nine hours of sleep per night.

If you're having trouble falling asleep before finals, consider a warm bath before bed. Also, spray some lavender on your pillow. Studies have proven it aids in sleep. Another natural remedy is melatonin. Try taking 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams before bed to help induce sweet slumber.