As you begin preparing for FINALS WEEK, here are some tips and tricks that will make your studying more effective.  BuzzFeed Staff, Australia has compiled a list of ways to best utilize your time while preparing for final exams. Good luck!

Keep a big bottle or jug of water by your table.

Keep a big bottle or jug of water by your table.

If you only have a glass of water, you’ll find yourself taking a heap of breaks to refill your glass. If you have the water with you, you’ll be more focused.

Try turning your phone on airplane mode.

.Try turning your phone on airplane mode.

Michelle Rennex / BuzzFeed

As notifications pop up on your phone, you stop studying to read them. Eight hours later, you’re deep into your Instagram feed with zero work done. So just pop it on airplane mode for a while to keep you distraction-free.

Create a guide of what to study and when.

Create a guide of what to study and when.
@universitymotivation / Via

Planners are a good way to map out which subjects you should study and for how long. Planning it out helps you not feel too overwhelmed by everything you need to do.

Stick important bits of information you need to remember in places that you look at often.

Stick important bits of information you need to remember in places that you look at often.
@journeytomedschool / Via

Put up need-to-know information like formulas, dates, and legislation on walls that you find yourself looking at all the time. Stick the notes in places you frequent often, like your bedroom and bathroom, to force yourself to read them.

Use different colored highlighters, but only to highlight the important things.

Use different coloured highlighters, but only to highlight the important things.
@studysmart_ / Via

Different colors for different themes and ideas will help you remember things at first glance when you go to revise them. Also highlighting as little as possible means you’re most likely to retain the most important information.

Reward yourself after certain periods of studying.

Reward yourself after certain periods of studying.
@catalinacaring / Via

Maybe it’s a cube of chocolate after reading every three paragraphs, or perhaps an episode of your favorite show after two hours of studying. Either way, giving yourself something to work towards will make you more motivated to get there.

Use Post-It notes to jot down information you’re having a tough time remembering.

Use Post-It notes to jot down information you're having a tough time remembering.
@studyisa / Via

If you write down the information and stick it somewhere you always see, you’ll start consuming it more. The more you consume it, the more likely you’ll be to remember it.

Or place your concise study notes up on your desk wall at eye level.

Or place your concise study notes up on your desk wall at eye level.
@medicineandchill / Via

Having your notes at eye level works because you end up looking at them when you don’t even realize. You’re more likely to retain information that you see every day.

Schedule a solid block of sleep in your study plans.

Schedule a solid block of sleep in your study plans.
@slipsilkpillowcase / Via

While the concept of an all-nighter may seem appealing, the more tired you are the worse your memory will be. Aim for a good eight hours to ensure that your body is well-rested and your mind is alert.

Where possible, try to handwrite your notes.

Where possible, try to handwrite your notes.
@blossom_letters / Via

Handwriting your notes helps you remember what you’re writing as you do them. If writing out chunks of text isn’t your style, try writing out flash cards and using them to study.

But if you are typing instead of writing out your notes, use the font Times New Roman.

But if you are typing instead of writing out your notes, use the font Times New Roman.
@megaprintmakers / Via

Although Times New Roman is pretty close to Comic Sans on the levels of “bad to look at fonts”, it is one of the fastest fonts to read.

Don’t listen to music you know and love.

Don't listen to music you know and love.
@selinersss / Via

If you love a song, chances are you know all the lyrics and subconsciously you’re thinking about the next lyric before it even plays. Try instrumental music, or songs you don’t often listen to, to help clear your mind.

And never feel guilty for taking a break.

And never feel guilty for taking a break.
@bookloverbutslowreader / Via

You can’t be switched on all the time. You need to give your brain a break and a little time to wind down. Don’t overexert yourself!


Looking to find a way to relax and recharge? Here are a collection of apps from the OSU-Cascades Student Success Center to help.

iPhone Apps: Meditation/Relaxation/Mindfulness

  • Bloom – Reminders to make healthy choices, stay connected with others, manage stress, strengthen your spirit, save money, advance your career, and enhance your creativity.
  • Breathe2Relax – Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing
  • Daily Body Scan – This is a stand-alone iPod ready audio track featuring expert contributor Stephen Cope from Wild Divine the makers of Relaxing Rhythms
  • Equanimity – App times mediation and provides mindfulness practice sessions.
  • Fluid Monkey – Relax as you enjoy interacting with incredibly smooth and responsive pools of liquid. Use all ten fingers to smear paint, jiggle gelatin, or fling brightly-colored balls through puddles of mud
  • iQuarium – Chill out while watching your Parrot Cichlid fish swimming in its tank, feed it, play with it, interact with it
  • Panic Attack Aid – Contains tools for breathing, explanation of physical symptoms, and distraction exercises
  • Relax Melodies – white noise ambience for sleep, meditation & yoga
  • Simply Being Guided Meditation – Voice guided step-by-step instructions for meditation and relaxation
  • Simply Yoga – Contains 20, 40, or 60 minute yoga routines that step you through each pose. Each pose is demonstrated by a certified personal trainer, simply choose your workout length and follow along in the comfort of your own home
  • Sleep Machine – Ambient noise application
  • Transform Your Life: A Year of Awareness Practice by Cheri Huber – inspirational quotes, encouragement, and daily assignments supporting awareness practice focused on compassionate self-acceptance

Android Apps: Meditation/Relaxation/Mindfulness

  • Breathe2Relax – Diaphragmatic breathing application
  • Buddhist Meditation Trainer – Personal trainer for relaxing and enlightening meditation. It features 10 levels of enlightenment with deeper quotes to meditate on in every level, all with a simple to use meditation timer.
  • Calming Music to Tranquilize – Calming Music to Tranquilize is a light music collection providing relaxing experiences through the balance and harmony in the Chinese Tai Chi way of meditation.
  • Daily Body Scan – This is a stand-alone iPod ready audio track featuring expert contributor Stephen Cope from Wild Divine the makers of Relaxing Rhythms
  • Easy Relax – Ambient noise application (i.e. white noise, waves crashing, rainforest, etc.)
  • iQuarium – Chill out while watching your Parrot Cichlid fish swimming in its tank, feed it, play with it, interact with it
  • Lightening-Bug Sleep Clock – Ambient noise sleep app.
  • Meditation Helper – A meditation timer which allows you to set a target for the length of time you want to meditate each day. It includes a widget that displays the number of consecutive days you have hit the target. It is thus useful not only as a timer, but also as a tool to help motivate you to meditate regularly.
  • Music Therapy for Refreshment – Medium Speed Alpha Wave (10Hz) set in 5 melodic music pieces provides a most relaxing way to restore your vigor, to bring about a refreshed mind.
  • Qi Gong Meditation Relaxation – Improve your physical health, relax and reduce your stress by learning Qi Gong, gentle movement combined with breathing
  • Relax and Sleep – Choose and mix from over 35+ ambient sounds which incl. thunder and white noise.
  • Relax Completely – free hypnosis session for deep relaxation
  • Relax Melodies – Relaxing noises and animations
  • Relaxing Sounds – Create your own relaxing sounds by combining sounds
  • Simply Being Guided Meditation – Voice guided step-by-step instructions for meditation and relaxation
  • Stop Panic and Anxiety – Used as a dysfunctional thought record diary; contains relaxation audio (guided imagery and PMR) and psychoeducation on panic and anxiety
  • Stress Reduction – Contains relaxation and PMR audio
  • White Noise – White Noise Lite provides ambient sounds of the environment to help you relax or sleep.
  • Yoga Workout Planner – A comprehensive yoga app embedded with animated yoga classes. Positions are shown in animations.
  • YogaPedia – provides nearly 100 unique yoga positions, tips and information

kevin-mccalister-scream1Juggling school, life and work is a challenge for many online learners. When you combine being an online learner and the stress of the holidays, it can become overwhelming. There are ways to stay on track to find balance between school and the holidays without losing your mind. While using the same skills and techniques that make online learners successful, you can manage online learning and the holidays to create a place that works for both. The key is finding balance during this stressful time of the year.

Schedule Your Work Time

Keep your schedule updated! This will keep you focused and on task. Build your holiday parties and get-togethers around your academics. Be aware of upcoming due dates and holiday get-togethers that may conflict with your academics. Prioritize the holiday events in your life so you make take the time to do research for your paper or to complete assignments.

Take Advantage of Downtime

One of the greatest things about being an online student is you can work from anywhere at any time. The holidays can provide some unexpected downtime, most of which can be used in your favor. With holiday travel, shopping lines and last second changes to your schedule or others, there are opportunities to check in on your school work. You can utilize apps on your phone or tablet to submit work, ensure you have completed assignments, check in on your calendar for upcoming due dates or post in a discussion board.

It’s OK To Say No!

Know when it’s too much! Be mindful not to overextend yourself with requests from friends and family over the holidays. Keep them informed of your academic schedule and due dates. You might not be able to commit to all of your invitations, especially when they conflict with your upcoming due dates. Family and friends will be more accepting when you politely decline invitations when they are aware of school commitments.

Take Breaks

Take periodic breaks from school to charge back up. Spending all of your time on your studies can add more stress to what can be a stressful time of year. Find a quiet place for yourself where you can relax and take a deep breath, unplug from your school, clear your mind and “just be” where your feet are. There are a variety of wellness apps that promote wellness and relaxation.

Impacts On Other’s Schedules

Be aware of University closures and holiday schedules. Your instructor and University staff will be unavailable to answer your questions since they too will be spending time with their families. Be sure to reach out to your instructor prior to the holiday to ensure you get a timely response.

Enjoy The Holidays

Don’t ignore school, but it’s the perfect time step back and enjoy this time of the year. Share time with family and friends and enjoy the holiday traditions!



Photo Credit: Pete Boyle
Photo Credit: Pete Boyle

Now that the term is half over and we are heading into the home stretch, you may find yourself analyzing your performance thus far. You are now beginning to see what is and what isn’t working for you with regards to your academic learning strategy. It is easy to keep doing the things that are working for you, but the challenge is to find more effective ways for things that aren’t working for you.

Successful students are strategic thinkers who have found effective solutions to challenges that they are seeing in their learning strategy. They are able to step back and analyze why it isn’t working for them and then adjust their learning strategy to make it more effective, which allows them to persist.

Persistence vs Tenacity

The words persistence and tenacity are currently being used interchangeably in meaning and application. Those who persist or are tenacious, are finding ways to overcome a task or find a solution to a problem. However, they reflect two different trains of thought and levels of thinking.

One who persists will devise a possible solution to a task or problem and then will strictly follow the process to find the solution, regardless if the process is inefficient or flawed. Persistent learners put their head down and attack the issue at hand and work through the process. They will devise a plan of attack and stick with that plan until completion. They do not concern themselves with the effectiveness or how to improve the plan. These learners are characterized as those who “work harder and not smarter.”

On the contrary, the learners who are tenacious may have created an identical solution, but will constantly assess its effectiveness. They will utilize feedback throughout the process to ensure they are improving upon their strategy to create the most productive and efficient process in solving the task or problem. Strategic thinkers are characterized as those who “work smarter and not harder.”

The successful learner is the tenacious individual or strategic thinker. These learners have the ability to constantly assess their strategy throughout the learning process allowing the learner to create the most effective and efficient plan for success. They are aware of what is or isn’t working for them. They have the ability to develop a learning strategy and assess its effectiveness, which is the sign of a tenacious learner.

TENACIOUS LEARNERS are constantly seeking answers to these questions:

You can’t plan on doing things the same way and expect different results. The key is to continually assess and improve your strategy. Being a tenacious, strategic thinker is your key to being a successful learner. Be sure to continually assess and improve your learning strategy. Work smarter, not harder!

There are ways to putting leftover Halloween candy to good use. Studies have shown eating candy can actually help you become a better student by increasing the effectiveness of your study time. Whether it’s increasing your willpower, enhancing your mood, improving your focus or relieving stress, candy can play a positive role. So, put that leftover candy to good use and grab a handful while studying.

Sugar-Induced Willpowerhalloween-candy1

If you think you’re doing yourself a favor by opting for the sugar-free version of your favorite study time snack, you might be wrong. As it turns out, just a little bit of sugar may go a long way in helping you power through to the end of your coma-inducing reading assignment. In fact, recent studies show that not only will you get to the end with a sugar boost; you’ll have focused better throughout. Now, rejoice and grab that bag of candy you’ve been eyeing. Anything with sugar will do!

Chocolate-Flavored Mood Booster

Ah, chocolate. The taste alone can help brighten even the darkest days, but did you know it contains a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) that can actually enhance your mood? In fact, it’s proven to help relieve signs of depression. So, what does that have to do with your study time? You get to enjoy those M&M’s you’ve been dreaming about while writing your next paper, of course! But seriously, think of it this way – if you’re in a better mood, you’ll study longer. If you study longer, you’re bound to get better results on those papers and tests!

Peppermint-Powered Focus

Having trouble focusing on the task at hand? Grab a peppermint! Studies at the University of Cincinnati show that you’ll concentrate better and even become more alert, not to mention the added benefit of having the freshest breath around. If a bag of peppermints isn’t your first choice for a sugary snack, try stopping by Starbuck’s for a peppermint hot chocolate or grabbing a piece of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark for a mood-brightening bonus!

Gum-Smacking for Stress Relief

For many students, battling stress is an everyday occurrence. If you find yourself battling anxiety, try chewing a piece of gum to ease the pain. The repetitive nature can help release nervous tension, letting you focus on the task at hand. If you’re a little skeptical, check out a little research on the benefits of chewing, then pick up a pack of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum and start reaping the benefits. And don’t forget – none of that sugar-free stuff!


Source: North Central University 

When writing an essay for an exam, pay particular attention to the words that are being used in the exam question. Understanding these words will allow you to provide the information your instructor is looking for as well as how to craft your answer.

Analyze: Break into separate parts and discuss, examine, or interpret each part. Illustrate: Give concrete examples. Explain clearly by using comparisons or examples.


Contrast: Show differences. Set in opposition. Compare: Examine two or more things. Identify similarities and differences. Interpret: Comment upon, give examples, describe relationships. Explain the meaning. Describe, then evaluate.


Criticize: Make judgments. Evaluate comparative worth. Criticism often involves analysis. If any of these terms are still unclear to you, go to an unabridged dictionary. Thorough knowledge of these words helps you give the teacher what he/she is requesting.


Outline: Describe main ideas, characteristics, or events. (Does not necessarily mean to write a Roman Numeral/Letter outline.)


Define: Give the meaning; usually a meaning specific to the course or subject. Explain the exact meaning. Definitions are usually short. Prove: Support with facts (especially facts presented in class or in the text.)
Describe: Give a detailed account. Make a picture with words. List characteristics, qualities, and parts.


Relate: Show the connections between ideas or events. Provide a larger context.


Discuss: Consider and debate or argue about the pros and cons of an issue. Write about any conflict. Compare and contrast.


State: Explain precisely.


Enumerate: List several ideas, aspects, events, things, qualities, reasons, etc.


Summarize: Give a brief, condensed account. Include conclusions. Avoid unnecessary details.


Evaluate: Give your opinion or cite the opinion of an expert. Include evidence to support the evaluation.


Trace: Show the order of events or progress of a subject or event.


Explain: Make an idea clear. Show logically how a concept is developed. Give the reason for an event.


Ellis, D. (1998). Becoming a Master Student. Houghton Mifflin: Boston

Everyone should feel some level of anxiety on test day. However, anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with your ability to think and recall information. Test anxiety can create both physical and mental symptoms. Below are some strategies in managing test anxiety on the day of an exam.


Negative Self-Talk Positive Self-Talk
“I’ll never get finished.” “Just take it one step at a time.”
“If I miss this, I’ve really blown it.” “Some tension is inevitable; no need to worry about it.”
“Why am I so nervous? I hate feeling like this. I know I’m going to fail.” “I studied and I am confident I will do my best.”
“Everyone else is doing better than me.” “I’m doing fine. I am only concerned about myself.”
“If I fail this test, my life will fall apart.” “Even if I don’t do as well as I’d like, it’s not the end of the world.”
“Oh no! I studied this one but my mind is just going blank!” “I’ll skip this question and go on to some easier ones. I’ll come back to it later.”
“I know I missed the last answer. I should have gotten it!” “Even if I miss a few questions, that doesn’t bother me. I can still get a good grade.”



Deep breathing is one of the simplest techniques you can use to reduce anxiety before, during, and after a test. Breathing provides you with the oxygen necessary to think clearly and releases physical tension at the same time.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Breath through your nose. Breathe in deeply into your abdomen. Pause before you exhale.
  3. Breathe out from your abdomen slowly.
  4. Use each inhalation as a moment to become aware of any tension in your body. Use each exhalation as an opportunity to let go of tension.
  5. Repeat once, then return to the test.



  • Let yourself stay with that scene for a few moments
  • Once you feel relaxed, imagine going in for your test.
  • Imagine yourself calmly sitting down, waiting to begin test. As you begin the test, you say to yourself “I am prepared. Relax. Concentrate.” You start the test and read the directions, planning your time carefully. You read and answer the first question…


  • Think about something melting when you want to relax. “Melting” evokes many images:
  • snow melting in the sun
  • a flame melting candle wax
  • marshmallow melting in hot chocolate
  • butter melting in a pan
  • chocolate chips melting in cookies


The relaxation procedure involves systematically tensing and then relaxing different groups of muscles in your body:

  • Begin the procedure by either sitting in a comfortable chair or lying down. Move your arms toward the center of your body and bend both arms at the elbow. Tighten your hands into fists and simultaneously tense the muscles in your upper arms and shoulders. Hold for ten seconds and then relax for fifteen to twenty seconds.
  • Tense your face muscles by wrinkling your forehead and cheek muscles. Hold for ten seconds then relax.
  • Tense the muscles in your chest for fifteen seconds and then relax. Repeat this procedure for all the different parts of your body while telling yourself that you are becoming more and more relaxed. Pay particular attention to the muscles in your neck and back since these muscles become tense easily.


Avoid people or situations that create anxiety.

  • Pay attention to the time allotted for the test, but avoid excessive clock–watching
  • Be sure you are settled in and relaxed prior to your test.
  • Avoid food or drinks that are stimulants and increase “jitters.”
  • Avoid talking about your test grade with others if this increases your anxiety. If you feel uncomfortable with being asked “How did you do”, respond with “I did as well as I expected.” or “I’d rather not talk about my grades.”
Butte College Center for Academic Success
Utah State University Academic Success Center
University of Alabama Center for Academic Success

Looking for additional resources for a math or science course you are currently enrolled in, or need to review to get yourself prepared for the next course in a sequence? Below are some helpful online tutorials.

MATH (Links to an external site.) (free course, organized to be completed in 7 weeks)
• (Links to an external site.) (calculus help for visual learners; many links) (Links to an external site.) (select topics from menu)  (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Computational Knowledge Engine) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

CHEMISTRY (Links to an external site.) (select topics from menu) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

PHYSICS (Links to an external site.) (select topics from menu) (Links to an external site.) to an external site.) (search for ‘mechanical universe’)

STATISTICS (Links to an external site.) (select topics from menu) (Links to an external site.) (ctrl+f and enter ‘statistics’ in search box to find entries on page) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

General Purpose Apps

For note-taking, research, creating to-dos, lists and attaching images, and PDF’s. Instantly synchronizes from computer to smartphone, tablet and the web. iOS and Android compatible.
Dropbox Free service that lets you store your photos, docs, and videos in the cloud and share them easily. Synchronizes from computer to smartphone, tablet and the web. iOS and Android compatible.
Awesome Note Note-taking application and to-do manager that allow you to combine notes with to-do flexibility. iOS and GalaxyNote compatible.
Checklist to full-blown project management. A task manager app that lets you focus on what’s important. iOS and Android compatible.
Task manager app modeled after the GTD (“Get Things Done”) method of project management. iOS and Android compatible.
myHomework Digital student planner that lets you easily track your classes, homework, tests and projects. myHomework is available on multiple platforms, so you can always know what’s due wherever you are. You can find the myHomework app on the iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 8, Kindle Fire and the Web.

Apps by Various Topics

Magical Pad Note-Taking and Task Manager app that enables you to quickly take notes, capture ideas, doodle and manage lists and to-dos. iOS compatibility only.
Inspiration App for mind maps and graphic organizers to help you: brainstorm and visualize ideas with maps and diagrams; organize thoughts and information; make sense of complex concepts and projects. iOS compatibility only.
SimpleMind Mind mapping tool that turns your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch into a brainstorming, idea collection and thought structuring device. iOS compatibility only.

Mapping tool allows users several advanced features to diagram information and use it for collaborative aspects project management, report writing, and just brainstorming.
Handwritten Notes    
Pennultimate Handwriting app for iPad that combines the natural experience of pen and paper with the flexibility and syncing of Evernote. Take notes, keep sketches, or share your ideas from anywhere. iOS compatibility only.
Note-Taking app that allows you to jot down whatever comes to mind, just like an ordinary pen and paper. Write with finger, stylus or smart pen. Easily allows for exporting to Evernote, Dropbox, Twitter and Facebook. iOS compatibility only.
Notesplus Note-Taking app that allows you to type, draw or record notes. Import and annotate and highlight on PDF’s. Easily allows for exporting to various outlets. iOS compatibility only.
Notability Note-Taking app that allows you to create, illustrate, outline, annotate, record, capture photos. Automatic cloud synchronizing to iPhone and iPad. iOS compatibility only.
Annotations & Readers
iAnnotate PDF PDF document reader that allows for reading, annotating and sharing PDF documents, Word/PowerPoint files and images. iOS and Android compatible.
GoodReader Document reader that allows you to read virtually anything, anywhere: books, movies, pictures. Easily annotate, manage, transfer, and sync files. iOS compatibility only.
Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF document reader app that allows for reading and annotating PDF’s across various platforms. iOS and Android compatible.
PDF Expert PDF Expert is a professional PDF viewer and annotation tool for iPhone/iPod Touch. Read and annotate PDF documents, highlight text, and annotate. Sync with Dropbox. Copy files from Mac and PC. PDF Expert is a professional PDF viewer and annotation tool for iPhone/iPod Touch. iOS compatibility only.
Browzine A tablet application that allows you to browse, read and monitor many of the library’s scholarly journals in a format optimized for iPad and Android tablets. The selected articles can be can easily be synced with Zotero, Dropbox, RefWorks.

Note: Browzine is available for free through Penn Libraries to all current students, faculty, and staff. Works on Tablet devices: iPad, Android.

Apps for for Managing Articles, References and Digital Annotations

Mendeley A digital manager that organizes references, research, and enables collaborative discovery of the latest research. Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.
ProQuest Allows users to create personal bibliographic citation database using this web-based bibliographic management tool.
Zotero Allows users to organize online resources, bibliographies, blog posts and PDFs. This way, users can organize all the searched web content in one place and keep track of what information has been located, and then, find it again easily.
Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.

Apps for STEM courses

Wolfram Alpha A free open source tool, allows users to submit mathematical and computation queries through a text field. Wolfram Alpha computes answers to user queries and displays relevant visualizations that make the answers easy to comprehend and apply to other problems of similar nature.
Khan Academy A free educational resource that offers video tutorials on a wide range of subjects including: mathematics, history, physics, general and organic chemistry, micro and macroeconomics. Khan Academy allows users to develop a personalized dashboard to tag favorites and most commonly used tutorials.
Molecular Workbench A free open source portal that allows users to launch and customize concepts at atomic and molecular levels in physics, chemistry, biotechnology and nanotechnology.

If you have found an app that works best for you, please share it and we will add it to our collection.