Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise! Healthy Study Habits as Finals Approach

Author: Dr. Marsha Lue

As finals approach, we wanted to share some healthy study habits with you all. Remember, it is not only about your education that will make your study habits run smoothly; it is also about your physical well-being. Let’s start with the educational side.

Wong (2009) suggested multiple study habits, some of which includes information on notetaking. While it sounds simple, notetaking in class can become daunting. To eliminate some of the anxiety when it comes effective notetaking, one should be an effective listener. You may hear your instructor, but do you really listen? To implement active listening, Wong (2009) listed some key points:

  • Stay active and focused;
  • pay attention;
  • ask questions;
  • keep an open mind; and
  • assimilate information (p. 286).

What this means is that while in class, it is crucial that you remain an active listener so you do not miss out on important information that could very well be covered on a final exam. Some of you may be reading this, thinking, “How am I to accomplish such tasks while trying to take notes?”

Keep in mind the various factors that Wong (2009) outlined which can affect your ability to listen in class.  Some of these factors include:

  • Attitude! Be sure you rid yourself of any negative attitude so it will not adversely affect your ability to learn;
  • Distractions. Be sure that whatever it is you have distracting you from your coursework is “left at the door,” meaning, your only focus in class should be that course content.
  • Personal factors. These may be your comfort level in the classroom (are you physically comfortable?) or where you are seated (p. 288).

A few techniques that you may want to incorporate into your study techniques include understanding your material before you take notes. For example, when you start reading a chapter in your text, you may want to map it out by drawing a visual or highlighting the main concepts and then understand the components to those main concepts. Another suggested technique from Wong (2009) is to annotate important information and consistently do reviews; reading your notes out loud is an effective method to learning material.

The SQ4R method is also recommended.  Wong (2009) explained the SQ4R method as such:

  1. Survey the materials – familiarize yourself with the information;
  2. Question – write out questions about the information;
  3. Read – read the information thoroughly, one part at a time;
  4. Record – take notes on the information that you find crucial;
  5. Recite – talk out loud if you need to and recite the crucial parts. Be sure to check your accuracy; and
  6. Review – immediate and ongoing review of information will help you understand the information thoroughly (pp. 216-218).

Another, all too often forgotten, piece of healthy study habits is physical well-being. As some of you may know, I work out at the gym.  A LOT.  But the reason I work out every day is because it is a great form of stress release for me. While it doesn’t allow me to eat whatever I want, I know that I can have a cheat meal now and again (because who doesn’t like ice cream for breakfast!?). The important part is that I maintain a level of balance.

While trying to achieve your own level of balance during the harried finals week, I would recommend that you specifically set aside some time where you are able to get some physical activity in of some sort. Whether it be a brief 10 minute walk or an intense cardio session (who out there loves burpees as much as me?), the physical movement will help get your brain going.  Some great ideas for physical activity:

  • Yoga
  • Walking/Running
  • Weightlifting
  • Cardio (bosu ball burpees is where it’s at!)
  • Sitting outside to get some fresh air
  • Dancing around the house
  • Snowshoeing (stay tuned for a snowshoe date)

Whatever activity you choose, just be sure it’s one that you enjoy and one that you can make time for, even if it is only 10 minutes a day.

Don’t forget about healthy food options, too! When I sit down to write papers or study, my go-to is to have snacks around the computer. What I try to incorporate is healthy food options so I can snack guilt-free.


Wong, L. (2009). Essential study skills. (6th ed.) Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company.

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