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There is a right way to study and then there is a wrong way. When you have an important test coming up, it’s crucial that you are maximizing your review time and studying to the best of your ability. Knowing what NOT to do when studying is just as important as finding the time to actually cover all the material. Here are some tips about what you shouldn’t be doing when you have a big test coming up and need to be fully focused on studying your material.

1. Don’t start studying for the first time the day before the test

While cramming 24 hours before can sometimes work, most of the time it will leave you stressed out and with a not-so-pleasant grade. Make sure you give yourself plenty of studying time prior to the test, whether that’s only several days of hard-core studying or a full week. This will help alleviate stress, keep your head clear to focus solely on your coursework, and also ensure you have enough time to cover all of the material.

2. Don’t study with a group that is going to distract you

It sounds fun to study with your best friends in theory, but once you actually do it you’ll be lucky if you see the inside of your textbook. Study buddies are a great resource only if they keep you focused on the material at hand and help you to better understand it. If you’re going to study with other people make sure it’s those who aren’t going to distract you with last night’s gossip or persuade you to take yet another study break.

3. Don’t wear uncomfortable clothes

You probably didn’t think about how your outfit was going to affect your studying before you headed off to the library. But it’s hard to concentrate when your jeans are too tight or that sweater isn’t warm enough. Plan your outfit accordingly. Make sure it’s comfy enough that you’re not going to be fidgeting with it and that it will keep you comfortable in whatever temperature you may encounter.

4. Don’t study in a distracting environment

Finding the perfect place to study in is challenging, but its essential for ensuring a successful studying session. If you get distracted easily don’t study in busy places like a coffee shop or your dorm’s lounge. But if complete quietness bothers you don’t study in the library. Sometimes studying at home can be just as distracting and you need a separate environment in order to focus. Find out what type of environment allows you to be most efficient and stick with it.

5. Don’t make review material that takes longer to make than review

Sure it looks cool to rewrite and color coordinate your notes, but is that really going to help your studying? Make sure whatever studying techniques you use are actually helpful and not just giving you a source of procrastination. Whether you’re a flash cards, re-reader, or type-up your notes kind of person, make sure you’re making the best use of your time.

6. Don’t let social media distract you

It’s so easy to have a ten-minute study break and check updates on your newsfeed, Instagram, and Twitter page. It’s also just as easy for that ten-minute study break to turn into 30 minutes of procrastination. If you’re easily distracted by social media, consider turning your phone off or downloading an app that will block social media sites from your laptop or phone.

7. Don’t study on an empty stomach

It’s difficult to concentrate if you’re stomach is grumbling. Studying on an empty stomach will mean your mind is more focused on your hunger than your material. Make sure you’re stomach is full before opening your books. It will prevent you from getting distracted with study snacks or being forced to take a break to grab some food.

8. Don’t overanalyze your studying with other people

It’s easy to compare how much Lisa studied compared to how much you did. But, people all study differently. Don’t stress yourself out by worrying you didn’t do as good a job as another person. Comparisons never help and only work to add more stress to your life. Focus only on what you’re doing and the results will show in your work.

9. Don’t party hard when you know you have a big test coming up

Even though you may have pulled an 8-hour study session in the library, going to that party may not be in your best interest. If you have a major test coming up its best to let your body rest and regenerate by keeping your nights quiet at least a few days before the test. Studying takes a lot more energy than you may realize and you need down time. You can party hard once the test is over.

10. Don’t study to the point where you can’t think straight

Yes, there is a point where you have studied too much. Popping Tylenol and drinking coffee will only get you so far. If you begin experiencing headaches, nausea, blurriness, and plain exhaustion, that’s a good sign that its time to call it a night. If you study beyond this point you won’t be absorbing any information and may jeopardize your ability to think clearly during the test. Always put your health first when it comes to studying.

Studying will never be fun. Knowing how not to study will ensure that you are studying to the best of your ability and may mean you don’t have to spend as many hours in the library. Make sure you’re making the most of your studying time so you can ace those big tests and then have an awesome reason to celebrate afterwards.

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the author

Alexandra is a third year student at McGill University studying Joint Honors Political Science and Philosophy with a minor in Sexual Diversity Studies. She is an aspiring writer with publications appearing on The Huffington Post, Her Campus McGill, Elite Daily, The Main, College Fashionista, Unwritten, and, of course, The Prospect. She is a self admitted coffee addict and Netflix Junkie with an unhealthy obsession for plaid shirts. Alexandra is passionate about maintaining perfect hair, solving the problems of consequentialism, and perfecting her sarcasm. In her spare time she enjoys binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, shopping as a sport, and composing blatantly angsty music. When she’s not studying at her infamous corner of the library, you can find Alexandra at whatever concert is happening that night or working on her Pinterest boards. Follow her on Twitter @AlmostAlexandra or instagram @alexandrasakellariou.

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