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5 Ways to Create the Perfect Study Space

Check out our Study Space Ideas board on Pinterest for inspiration.

1. Don't make yourself at home.

Test preparation extends beyond pure mastery of the information you're being tested on. In the case of the SAT and ACT, you must prepare yourself physically for hours of continuous sitting - and you won't be sitting in a La-Z-Boy or sprawled out on a plush mattress. The age old adage "train as you fight" is applicable to standardized testing - for maximum success, try to replicate the testing environment as much as possible while studying at home. Many typical at-home distractions including music, snacks, and electronics are not permitted during examinations so you should eliminate them from your personal study space.
    Quick tips:
  • Don't study in a reclined position or while lying down.

  • Only allow yourself the amount of bathroom breaks or study breaks allotted for the actual test.

  • If you can't study in pure silence, set your station to Classical.


2. Treat yourself.

Sometimes you need some extra incentive to help you get excited for an upcoming study session. Whether it be a professional planner, a fancy notebook, a cool pen, or a decorative calendar, even the smallest upgrade can help revamp your attitude while studying. Additionally, a notable 2011 Chicago study suggests that post-exam incentives are effective in improving test performance. Rewards that immediately followed the test were the most effective in improving performance, so time is of the essence. Apply the learnings from this report to your study sessions - with the promise of your favorite treat or a trip to the mall with a friend looming, you'll be eager to reach that light at the end of tunnel.


    Quick tips:
  • If you prefer the digital version for your study tools, turn your phone to airplane mode so you can't receive email and text alerts.

3. Go old school

Your smartphone is like a digital Swiss Army knife when it comes to study resources. Chances are your phone contains a thesaurus, dictionary, calculator, translator, measurement converter and more- all of which fit in the palm of your hand. While this is a space efficient solution, it may not be the most conducive to studying due to the abundance of non-academic functions your phone performs. Go back to the basics and dig out your parent's old books and resources.

4. Get a timer.

Hold yourself accountable for your time spent studying. Establishing a series of smaller goals will help you stay on track and feel accomplished at the end of every session. Set a realistic timeframe for each assignment (eg: finish 15 problems in the next 2 hours), believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish this goal, and go for it. When you finish your task you'll feel great! If you don't finish, reexamine your designated timeframe or think about what you can do better next time.


5. Appeal to the senses.

Humans are equipped with five senses for a reason - use them to your advantage! Psychologists have long studied the effect that certain colors and scents can have on mood. Altering what you see and smell are two low-maintenance environmental factors you can easily customize within your study space. Each person has different preferences and responses to stimuli so identify what motivates you to study and be productive.
    Quick tips:
  • Cool colors (blue, green, purple) are calming and may be helpful for people who are naturally more alert of anxious by nature.

  • Warm colors (red, yellow, orange) are more stimulating and may be better suited for people who need a little extra energy boost.

  • Lemon, Lavender, Jasmine, Rosemary, Cinnamon and Peppermint are recommended for boosting mood and productivity.
Sources: http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224575
http://bfi.uchicago.edu/events/20111028_experiments/papers/Levitt_List_Neckermann_Sadoff_Short-Term_Incentives_September2011.pdf

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