It’s been a few weeks since school started, professors are assigning more homework, and the first wave of exams are right around the corner. For me, exam time is the most stressful part of the semester (who can study effectively when Netflix is just a click away!). So here are a few tips and tricks that I use to keep my focus and encourage me to get the grades I want.


I love to use this desktop app for Mac to keep me away from those distracting sites that fuel procrastination. It’s super easy. Just add the sites you want to stay away from such as Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Pinterest and then pick how long you want to be blocked from accessing them. After that, until the timer goes off, you are blocked from using those sites. It has helped me so much and gotten me through some rough papers.

Ask Questions

This is a scary one, especially for introverts or those with anxiety. Try and ask at least one thing a week during or after class, either to the professor or a teaching assistant. I always have questions and when I try and ask just one and get a helpful response, it ends up saving me so much time. Instead of that 30 minutes I would’ve spent searching the textbook or online for answers, I can move on to the next thing. A bonus to this tip is that you’ll get to know your professor and they will get to know you in return and that could be quite beneficial in the long run.

Pre-Organized Notes

This isn’t an app or a website, but a tip. I’ve had a lot of success in studying by keeping up with my note organization consistently throughout the semester. I like to set up an system at the start of the year and stick to it. I’ll usually use dividers to separate my class notes, book notes, practice exams, and study guides/notes taken while studying the study guides. It might seem like a lot for each subject but it’s great once exams arrive and you already know where to find everything.

Make Friends

This one is probably the hardest “hack” for me, but knowing people in my classes can really be a great way to keep up. Try and find a few people that you see around campus or who you sit near during the lecture. Try and make conversation before/after class. They don’t have to be your new best friends but it can be extremely helpful to know people in class so that you can email/text about any questions with homework, exams, or class announcements. 

Make a Study Playlist

I can be distracted very easily while studying, and am often tempted to just turn on Netflix or YouTube while I study. In the end, this doesn’t help me at all because I end up putting 100% of my attention into what’s on the screen instead of my studying! One thing that has helped is making a study playlist to keep my mind focused and keep me on track. Playlists can be made from your own music within iTunes, or even in Spotify (or if you want to be really old-school, make a cool mixed CD)!

My favorite study music:

  • Acoustic instrumentals of popular songs
  • Movie soundtracks
  • Albums I’ve listen to so much that I have the songs memorized (so I don’t end up focusing on the lyrics rather than what I’m studying)

What are some of your favorite study methods?

This post is cross-posted on my old blog which can be found here.