Column: Studying Smarter, Not Harder

By Sahil Gandhi and Abel Monichan


During these unprecedented times, many aspects of life have changed, including the ways in which we study. As many students taking various AP classes, SATs, and ACTs begin to prepare for these big exams, studying is a huge factor in how we perform.


As exam dates approach, most students tend to overestimate themselves and overload the amount of time and work they have to prepare for the exams, which can cause them to burn out. Methods to avoiding burnout include studying in short sessions, setting aside small breaks, and writing a schedule to effectively decide what time you can put aside to study. In addition, prioritizing certain topics in designated sessions and getting a good amount of sleep plays a crucial role in avoiding burnout.


“Cramming at the last minute is extremely frustrating and nerve-racking especially if it is in preparation for a three-hour exam like an AP exam...”

“When it gets closer to exam season, establish a rigid schedule for studying. I personally use the Pomodoro technique - you study for a specific time period, take a five minute break, and then repeat the process about three times until taking a longer break. It’s great because it reduces distractions and improves my concentration,” said junior Emma Ouyang.


Source by Anna Detke

Sophomore Ethan Siegel spends time studying in the senior high cafeteria.


Cramming for exams can be very difficult and can put pressure on you. Studying in advance and allotting time for different subjects is a great way to both mentally and physically prevent stress.


“My strategy to not over-stress myself is to first identify which exams I should focus on and which I don’t need to. Because I’m going into engineering or math, I’m going to focus more heavily on Calculus and Physics. Psychology and Government, I’ll do my best, but I won’t study so much on it or else it will stress me out,” said senior Sakib Azgar.


Finding helpful resources to study can be a daunting task, but there is a vast amount of material that is available. Some of the most used materials for the SAT are Khan Academy, which helps create a schedule to study before the test, Castle Learning’s Method Test Prep, and review books published by the Princeton Review or "The Official SAT Study Guide." Another resource with scheduled studying programs is test prep classes such as TestTakers or C2 Education.


“For a lot of my SAT prep, I think just taking practice tests on Khan Academy and familiarizing yourself with the format helps a lot. Then from your practice tests, you can target what specific topics you need to study on. I took TestTakers, which helped me prepare me more,” said junior Laurence Lai.


“...most students tend to overestimate themselves and overload the amount of time and work they have to prepare for the exams, which can cause them to burn out...”

Having a steady pace and setting a solid schedule are key aspects of doing well on any test. Studying a little bit every day helps to prepare students for major tests. Cramming at the last minute is extremely frustrating and nerve-racking especially if it is in preparation for a three-hour exam like an AP test.


“For exams like the SAT and AP exams, I paced myself by studying for the SAT, taking practice tests, and meeting with my tutor during the weekends, while my weekdays consist of studying for the upcoming AP exams,” said junior Prabpreet Singh.