Apr 282005
Authors: Megan Schulz

Sleeping on a book to gain knowledge through osmosis to ace a test may have crossed some students' minds in desperation. But, just like many people would expect – it does not work.

With 10 days until finals begin, it's not too early to start studying, said Rosellen Harvey, a master's social work intern therapist at the University Counseling Center.

Harvey, who also works in the Wellness Zone on Tuesdays to educate students about study skills, said that studying in a variety of ways is beneficial, and none of those ways include osmosis of any sort.

"You need to study two hours for every one hour you have class. Going to college requires more (work) than a full-time job," Harvey said. "Only using one type of studying is not the most beneficial."

She said that it is necessary to study notes at least three times a week, and when it comes to finals, it is important to start weeks in advance.

"The more ways you put information in the brain, the easier it is to retain it," Harvey said. "Also, study in a similar environment you are going to take the test in. That means no loud music."

The Stress Management Program, a division of the University Counseling Center, offers information about breathing techniques to reduce stress.

"Start the (breathing) exercises now. The body stays relaxed even when you are not performing them," Harvey said.

When it comes to actual test time, different types of tests determine how people should approach answering the questions.

Harvey said that on essays, people should write an outline because it will help keep the information organized. On multiple-choice tests, they should know the material well enough that even if they use the process of elimination, choosing the final answer should not be a guessing game.

Engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as not getting enough sleep and downing caffeine may be common in the college population, but they are not a wise choice, Harvey said. Finally, cramming is one of the biggest mistakes a student can make.

"You lost approximately 80 percent of what you crammed by the next morning," Harvey said.

Rachel Fisher a freshman open-option student, said she doesn't cram, but studying comes easily for her. She hasn't started studying for finals yet.

"I have three tests during finals week and two papers. But I don't normally study so I haven't started studying," Fisher said. "My finals won't be too hard this semester so I'll just look over my notes for most of them."

Fisher said that even though her study habits work for her, most people probably would not say that she has good study habits.

"I don't cram, but I make sure I actually get good sleep," Fisher said.

When it comes to eating habits during finals week, Dawn Clifford, a registered dietician of Hartshorn Health Service, suggests not changing eating habits too dramatically.

"Stick to quick, easy meals you know how to prepare and take advantage of weekends by going grocery shopping and cooking ahead of time," Clifford said. "Stick to somewhat healthy staples like canned soup and grilled cheese, and don't plan to cook any elaborate gourmet meals."

Clifford also said that good sleeping habits are important, and overloading on caffeine can adversely affect sleep quality.

"Sleep is so important, and if you're getting yourself all energized on caffeine, you're probably not going to sleep well at night," Clifford said. "Caffeine in moderation, which is equivalent to three cups of coffee, can be used advantageously on the day of your test, but definitely cut yourself off by 5 p.m."

Another health supplement that is used to increase alertness is ginseng, but Clifford recommends that only one dose of this should be taken.

"Caffeine with ginseng can make your heart beat fast so I don't recommend that as a safe combination. It's a little too stimulating and that can mess with your sleep cycles," Clifford said.

As a final piece of advice, Clifford said that it is absolutely necessary to stay hydrated.

Next week is Stress Busters Week at the Wellness Zone, and beginning Monday menus for finals week are being offered that include dinners and grocery plans, Clifford said.

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