Sometimes it seems that you have an insurmountable mountain of studying to do, and just not enough time to do it. Everyone has had that feeling at some point or another, but it’s rarely the case.

http://studyskills.com/products/?product=40Studying is all about efficiency. You might have 300 or 3,000 pages to study, but it’s always possible. Some people give up and accept that they will fail the test, but the truly persistent ones, the ones that have learned simple tricks to the trade are better off for it. Not only do they make good grades on tests, they learn how to manage their time for when the real work comes along.

There are a few tricks you can use for whatever task that might fall in your lap. Studying teaches you how to utilize them in an efficient manner.

Here are five tips to optimize your study time:

Prepare beforehand

Many people think that prep work counts as studying, which it does, to a certain extent. Taking notes, making flashcards and catching up on lesson plans should be routine things you do before you start studying, though. In an ideal world, you should have everything prepared for when you actually sit down and start reviewing information.

Sure, this is easier said than done, but if you get into the routine of making the necessary preparations, you will almost certainly be successful.

Take advantage of downtime

The best students know how to take advantage of their study time. Whether it is on the bus, on the way to class or waiting at the dentist office, there is always a way to cram in a few minutes of studying. Take your notes everywhere you go, even if it is just a flashcard or a PDF on your phone.

It will come in handy at some point. By taking advantage of time where you would normally be waiting or staring at the wall you will need less time to cram, and will be more likely to retain the information, as it will be stored in your long-term memory with repetitive studying.

Take notes while studying

You won’t retain much if you simply stare at a page all day long. Even if you’re studying a 3,000 page textbook, take as many notes as you can.

Sure, it might take a little bit longer, but by taking notes of what you read, you are transferring the material you learn from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.

Furthermore, it will take less time when you go to review information, as you will already have consolidated it on paper.

Sleep

You won’t get far if you don’t sleep. The stereotype of staying up all night to cram for that big exam works less often than people think.

While they are studying all night, they retain almost nothing, and most of the time, they are doing something counterproductive, like checking Facebook or Twitter.

Your brain cannot function without sleep, contrary to what many people think. Furthermore, it only works at full capacity for around 45 minutes, so if you don’t take sufficient breaks, you might as well be studying for 70 percent of the time.

Take breaks, get relaxed and sleep a normal amount. You will feel better during the test, and will likely be able to relay the information you learned in a more concise manner.

Pay attention to what you eat

Many college students think they can get by on coffee and a bag of chips, but that simply does not do the trick.

What you eat and drink is directly proportional to how you do on a test. If you don’t eat, your attention span will be shorter, your brain will not work as well and you will not do as well on a test. Furthermore, if you don’t drink water your brain will not work very efficiently.

Try taking some bottled water everywhere you go. It will incentivize you to drink more, which will wake you up and make you feel better.

That mountain might be tough to climb, but it won’t be impossible. Break it into step, take full advantage of your time, and remember, pulling an all-nighter probably will not work.

Patrick Rafferty is a consultant for Pure Water Technology of South Louisiana, a company that specializes in home water filtration systems.

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