Blog Academics, College Preparation

Burn the Midnight Oil: Finals Study Tips at the Library

By Lindsey Brooks on Wednesday, December 13, 2017


It’s that time of year again! Snow is falling, students are cramming, and everyone is burning the midnight oil. Finals prep is in full swing, which means you can expect our doors to be open into the wee hours of the night. Have a roommate who snores? Need to get away from the temptation of Netflix? Or maybe you even need a book that’s on our shelves? We are only too happy to offer a quiet, calm, focused space in which you can hunker down.

We instigated late night Finals Hours in 2010 because students asked and we could answer. People-centered service at the library means we listen to our students and adapt to changing needs. 

In keeping with the spirit of finals week focus, here are 3 study tricks to help you get to Christmas Break!

1. Tomato Timer

Created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s, the “Pomodoro Technique” was meant to cater to the brain’s need for breaks. Far from ignoring those urges to get up and do something else, the Pomodoro (or Tomato) Technique is based on a system of working periods and rest periods. Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer (whence the technique gained its name) to measure out 25-minute lengths of work time, after which he would allow himself a 5-minute break. Once he had repeated that cycle four times he would take a longer break — more like 20 minutes. This method is perfect for hammering out menial tasks, and it can be tweaked to fit almost any study situation. Pro-tip: re-purpose an exercise interval timer app to keep track of your work and rest times!

2. Sleep on it

Studies have shown that your brain goes through vital memory storage and detoxification processes while you sleep. All of those facts, dates, and formulas you’ve been memorizing need REM sleep in order to root into your long-term memory; that can’t happen if you pull an all-nighter! So next time you have a choice between going over the study guide one more time or finally hitting the sack, do your brain a favor and choose sleep. Pro-tip: Don’t have time for a full night’s sleep? Drink a cup of coffee and grab a 15-minute nap. Sleep and caffeine both work to block chemicals in your brain that cause drowsiness; sleeping during the 15 minutes it takes the coffee to hit your bloodstream will give you that extra kick you need to get through your 8 a.m. exam.

3. Get Moving

Movement is a great way to cement facts and memories in your brain. Pacing around your room or tossing a ball with a friend will give your brain multiple points of reference to help root things in your memory. Assigning unique gestures to certain facts is a helpful way to aid recall later on. Make up some motions to go along with that formula you need to memorize. Endorphins aid memory, too, and I guarantee it will get you laughing! Pro-tip: Rhythm is another helpful mnemonic – turn your study guide into a song or poem to go with your gestures! Giving your brain multiple frames of reference to retrieve facts is key to pulling up those facts during an exam.

There you have it! Three helpful tips to help you across the finish line and deliver you to a nice long break. See you in January!