Science-Backed Secrets to Ace Your Finals!


Finals, General, Students


dead week finals crunch


You’ve probably heard a million study hacks from students by now, whether it’s better to study with friends or what energy drinks help keep you awake. Sometimes, it’s best to leave it to the experts with science-based and peer reviewed research!

Here at StudyBlue, we know you’re anxious to pass your finals and get the grades you need to succeed. Check out these science-backed study tips that’ll have you studying smarter to beat the curve.

1. Use the Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Technique


What’s a Pomodoro? The word pomodoro comes from the Italian word pomodora, referencing the little tomato-shaped kitchen timers that the creator of the technique used.

The Pomodoro technique is all about timing, timeboxing, and keeping you on task. Timeboxing means working on a task for a set amount of time like 25 minutes and then taking a 3-5 minute break. After working one hour, you should take a 15-30 minute break. You should plan exactly what you want to study and work diligently on the task each 25 minute set.

Try studying different subjects in your 25 minute sessions! Studies show that varying the different subjects you focus on in a day is more effective than overloading yourself on a single task.

Planning and working in small increments towards goals helps give you a sense of accomplishment and manage time. This is a successful technique to integrate into your study routine! Check out this Google Chrome plug-in or an app such as Focus Keeper to help you out as well! Don’t forget that you can set study reminders with StudyBlue as well.

2. Chew Gum While Studying

Girl chewing gum during finals


Do you like to eat while studying or doing homework? It’s not just because learning and working gives you the munchies. Chewing gum, allows more oxygen flow to the brain and increases your heart rate, helping with memory retention as you work. Multiple studies have shown that those that chew gum do better on tests than those that don’t. Studies have also shown that chewing different flavors or smelling certain fragrances can jog memories.

Next time you study, try chewing gum! It’s also a healthier option to chips and junk food. For those that need something with more subsistence, try to snack of foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and olive oil. Eating a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids before an exam can reduce test anxiety.

3. Rest After Studying

Duke College student sleeping


It might seem counterproductive to take a nap while studying, but sleeping can actually help memory retention, according to studies. Drinking coffee and then taking a quick thirty minute nap can help refresh you and help you remember what you studied before sleeping. Another good idea is to study at night, sleep, and then return to the material in the morning. Try it, and don’t forget to get some rest during finals week. Being refreshed will go a long way.

Another good option is meditation, which has shown to reduce stress and anxiety. You can  meditate right before finals to relax your nerves or do so before you study to focus. The right mindset will go a long way.

4. Listen to 60 BPM Music

student listening to classical music during finals


Did you know that 60 beats per minute is considered the perfect tempo for productivity? A study from the BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore recorded that subjects felt reduced stress when they listened to music at 60 beats per minute. Try listening to relaxing music at a slower tempo, at around 60-80 BPM to focus on the work you need to get done. Try listening to classical music!

For helpful study music playlists, check out this classical music playlist and this contemporary playlist. Customize based off your preferences to create the ultimate study playlist for you!

5. Beat the Forgetting Curve!

Forgetting Curve

Ever wondered why you remember everything in your review but forget it all by the time you’re sitting in the lecture hall for your test? There’s actually a scientific term for that. It’s the Forgetting Curve! 

Forgetting Curve for students studying during finals

You might remember 100% of what you learn immediately after studying, but it can drop to 58% after 20 minutes, 44% after an hour, 36% after 9 hours and so on.

Beat the forgetting curve by regularly reviewing your notes and class materials. Even better, use technology as an aid rather than a distraction. Set study reminders with StudyBlue and regularly review key terms with flashcards and class materials that you can find on the website. You can check your progress to see how much of the material you remember. See your flashcard quiz scores go from low to high!

student scored 64% on quiz with StudyBlue
student studying bio 103 for finals


Remember that it is most effective to study in intervals with multiple review sessions to really cement the knowledge you’ve learned.

Also, use the Leitner system, designed by German scientist Sebastian Leitner, to study what you know least through repetition. Study the questions you know least first, and the questions you know the best last to make sure you relearn the subjects until you know it. Try a version of this with the StudyBlue tool, which allows you to study the hardest flashcards first.

Remember, cramming won’t save you if you can’t remember the information on the day of the exam!

We hope these tips will help you focus, relax during stressful times, and walk into that lecture hall with confidence. Good luck, students! We believe in you.