Graphic by Patty Huntley ’13

By Anna-Maria Thalassinos ’14

The final autumn leaves are falling and winter is approaching along with many holiday traditions. One routine that comes all too quickly for students before winter break are midterm exams. In order to avoid the long sleepless nights, here are tips to tackle the upcoming exams.

Should I go online or shut off my electronics?

As social networking gains popularity, there is a thin line between using it as a tool and the tool becoming a distraction. When studying, it is best to take a break from social media and complete a certain amount of work, and then indulge in the many advanced forms of communication, according to AP U.S. History teacher Kim Brown.

“I think for most of us we are trying to study, but then going back and forth between checking our e-mail, going on Facebook, or texting,” Brown said.

For Brown, these tools for communication can get in the way.

“It’s harder to get to that level of depth of study of what you need,” she said.

Parentdish, a parenting website of The Huffington Post, states research shows that those who avoid social networks while studying earn higher grades.

“[On average], students who used Facebook had GPAs of 3.06,” it states. “Those who turned off the social media network when it came time to hit the books had a typical GPA of 3.82.”

Should I study by myself or in a small group?

A decision students encounter is whether to study individually or in a group. According to Brown, the right study method varies on the student and how he or she learns best. For some students that’s done individually, and for others it is in groups. The big difference, Brown said, is studying for a large test versus a short quiz.

“I always encourage students to form study groups when you have more complex issues,” Brown said. “I do think that when you study with other people you can boost your confidence and help you know what [material] you do know, but it can also really draw out the things you need to work on.”

According to the Villanova Law School website, when studying is structured and students are interacting in a supportive environment, group studying is an ideal method.

On its website, it states, “Discussions with classmates can help [students] understand materials easier than [they] could have alone.”

Should I study in small amounts or all at once?

There is a constant debate between studying in small increments and working consecutively. Brown believes studying straight through with no breaks is ultimately not going to help a student learn.

“I think there reaches a point where nothing else can [be learned],” Brown said. “I always think it helps to review things, pull out notes and skim them for five minutes… The more repetition you give, and in smaller doses, is more effective.”

According to the University of South Florida’s website, it is ideal to take breaks when studying since the “average attention span for one task is approximately 20 minutes.” The website states, “[Students] retain a great deal more if [they] learn in small manageable portions, than when [they] attempt to learn a great deal of information at once.” USF recommended making these breaks mandatory to prevent burning out.