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Method to effectively study in pharmacy school?

Discussion in 'Pharmacy' started by lvp0021, Aug 5, 2007.

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  1. lvp0021

    lvp0021

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    Helloooo... I know there are a lot of successful PharmD, PharmD students and RpH on here. Please teach me how you effectively studied and are studying in Pharm school? Please be serious... I really want to know the right method to learn effectively. I've done quite some research and talk to a few recent PharmD grads. Mostly, they said there were too much infos to digest within so much short time so usually the faculty told them what to read and what were important. During my undergrad, I usually took notes from the lecture, read the book, summarized main points in my own writing and memorized those notes. If I have difficulty I always went to the professor immediately. I personally don't like group study. Don't get me wrong, I love to do group projects. But those study sessions when you have 10 people sitting around a table reading the books together do not work for me. I'd rather do it on my own. Please help... I am ready to be educated here :)
  2. pharmagirl

    pharmagirl

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    This is actually a very good method for studying in pharmacy school as well! I never actually had enough time to do ALL of the readings though, so I just read the ones that I thought were going to be important.

    Like others have told you there is a huge amount of information on the exams in pharmacy school so you just have to figure out a way to get it to a manageable size for you.

    I never stuck to this plan 100%, but if you can manage to go over your notes at least every other day (daily is preferred) and rewrite them in your own words, that will help you stay caught up. I tried to do this during the weeks leading up to the exam and then 3-4 days before the exam I would take my already condensed notes and condense them even further... typically down to just the raw facts that needed to be memorized. (random facts, doses etc)

    Good luck with school! Remember, the best thing you can do for yourself in school is try to relax a little bit and don't make it all about work, work, work! Having fun and enjoying life outside of school will keep you from burning out! I guess you've just got to learn that balance as you go.
  3. PharmDstudent

    PharmDstudent

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    Several students in my P1 class brought recording devices. It was funny to see the professors surrounded by audio recorders, but it helped for certain lectures. Many of the professors at my pharmacy school are from foreign countries, so it was beneficial on occasion to listen to their lectures again.

    My Biotechnology class had a bare PowerPoint guide to the lectures which was to be supplemented with hand written notes. I had to listen to a few of those lectures twice, because I wanted to get a better understanding of the material.
  4. Old Timer

    Old Timer SDN Advisor SDN Advisor

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    Here is the method that go me through back in the stone ages:

    1) Get a spiral notebook for each class.
    2) Get a good set of colored markers.
    3) Pay attention in class. Write clear and concise notes.

    At then end of the day, re-copy your notes into the spiral notebook. Add information from handouts and problems from the text books. Edit and organize your notes. Use the colors to draw attention to the important information.

    When you are done, you have a clean, clear concise study guide for the tests and you have reviewed your class material on a daily basis when it is fresh in your mind.
  5. lvp0021

    lvp0021

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    This is exactly how I did it in my undergrad... It's very effective but just takes me too much time to summarize all the sources :(:) But I'll try to do it this time only with important points.
    Thanks so much everyone for helping out. Your suggestions are truely appreciated. Please let me hear more from other people like zpack or sdn1977 or other senior users on here. Thank so much !
  6. Old Timer

    Old Timer SDN Advisor SDN Advisor

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    Deduct the amount of time you will NOT spend cramming the night before an exam. It's sort pay me know or pay me later.....
  7. lvp0021

    lvp0021

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    Thanks so much... any one else?
  8. sdn1977

    sdn1977 Senior Member

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    OK - here's what I did.

    Choose wisely from the recommended reading list. Don't read everything - you not only won't get thru it, you won't remember it.

    How I studied depended on what I studied. If it was pharmaceutical chemistry, I took detailed notes during class & rewrote just like Old Timer did, but I also transferred the structure onto a 3x5 with important points on the backside. It was important for us then to know structure-activity relationships, which has benefited me immensely over the years. I can know what the basic molecule is & then I learned what changing a particular side chain would do - increase duration, decrease ACH activity, whatever. It didn't really matter what the side chain was normally, it was WHERE it was placed which was important.

    I did that style of study for those types of classes.

    For the more "clinical" classes - physiology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacology - I again took detailed notes, but by that time, I had learned how to take notes with large headers. So, when I got home, I was able to highlight the important headers and mark my class notes with colored pens or whatever to emphasize points.

    Sometimes for a complicated biological process, kidney & resp function as it relates to acid-base status for example, I would rewrite it "cleanly" & use that clean copy as my study material.

    In pharmacology - I dealt with each drug class exactly the same way. I learned the prototype completely - from structure-activity relationship to pharmacology, kinetics, absorption, metabolism, excretion, etc...on & on....and learned it very, very well. Then....I took each drug within that class & made separate 3x5 cards on what made it different from the prototype. Some drug classes are best done by using a chart rather than 3x5 - then when you're tested, either written or verbally, you visualize the chart.

    I wasn't a study group person either, but the school made all old tests available - it was definitely in their interest to see us suceed. But, I did have one friend who we just quizzed each other, but rarely closer than a week before an exam.

    That's what worked for me & I use this method when I learn new drugs now. I agree with whomever said - be sure to maintain a balance. You need to have a day off. You need to not feel guilty about a movie or night out. You will be tired & exhausted, but you'll catch up later - that's life.

    Good luck!
  9. lvp0021

    lvp0021

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    Thanks so much sdn1977...you should be an academic professor:love::) Your
    students will be cutting-edge PharmD
    I am still waiting to hear from zpack... I am sure he'll say something sarcastic again :D Any one else? Please help....
  10. ZpackSux

    ZpackSux Retired

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    I can read golf digest once and will have the article memorized about golfswing mechanics or how Tiger won the tournament. I don't have to try too hard to learn it.
  11. twester

    twester Senior Member

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    A large amount of my studying is done solo, but don't rule out groups totally. The key is finding the right group. I won't study with a group larger than about 3 or 4 people. If you can find a small group of people that you like and that are equally motivated, study sessions before exams can be really helpful. I expect my study-mates to know the material before our session and be able to challenge me with questions. In return, I'll quiz back and share my silly little memory tricks. They don't call me The Efficacious-T for nothin' yo! :laugh: We have fun, but also do some serious work.
  12. lvp0021

    lvp0021

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    Could you please teach me how? Having seen, through reading your frisky/inspirational posts, that you are in fact a very competent pharmacist, I'd love to learn from your experiences in school...;) Thank you
  13. lvp0021

    lvp0021

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    Thank you for your post. Me too, usually I go solo. When I come to a group I usually have my studying done already and am just there to doublecheck by quizzing the other people or being quizzed by them.
  14. ZpackSux

    ZpackSux Retired

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    Frisky??? Who?
  15. ZpackSux

    ZpackSux Retired

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    I never studied in a group. They distracted me. I can learn without help from others.

    I learn best when I'm interested in a subject. With keen interest, reading it one time is good enough to have the subject learned. That's why I can memorize 0-60mph speed for 2006 Porsche 911 etc. Cuz that's what's interesting.

    Fortunately, many pharmacotherapy subjects were interesting for me.

    So I guess the key is where will you find the inspiration and interest in a subject which will make you salivate to learn? How bad do you want to learn the stuff??
  16. pharmagirl

    pharmagirl

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    :laugh: Frisky!
  17. boighmint

    boighmint

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    I also use this same method quoted above.

    I am starting P1 this August and I am really happy that I came across this discussion. I have read every study method discussed here and they are very good. I really want to improve on my study habit and note-taking skills. This is a great topic and thanks to everyone who contributed to this discussion.
  18. Aznfarmerboi

    Aznfarmerboi Senior Member

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    It also depends on what subject too. While a good way to learn something, like zpack said, is to be interested in it, there are other ways too.

    For example, in anatomy, you will be using a lot of mnemoics. In pharmaceutics, you will be doing a lot of practice problems. In your therapeutic classes, you will be doing what most of the ppl said so far in this post. One method that helped me is relating certain conditions to family members, patients, or celebrities. For example, relating schizophrenia to "A Beautiful Mind" helps me study that subject as that movie is a good example of a patient who is a schizophreniac and exibit some "negative" side effects of the medication that he is taking. You can relate it to a patient you saw in your pharmacy (to treat Mr. X, I have to do this and that). In terms of side effects, always think about the extreme of the medication so for example, a side effect of claritin (although it is well tolerated) is dry mouth because it exerts its effect through anti cholinergic effects, stopping mast cells from releasing histamine etc.

    Oh yeah time mangement is another important point. For me, I was never that big on studying as I am C student in my professional years. I manage to have a social life by balancing one class with another. Lets admit it, studying 15 minutes each day is more time efficient than studying one hour before the test. After a certain point (15 minutes), the stuff that you are studying will just go in one way and come out the other.
    You are going to have to prioritize and pick which classes are the most important to you (and worth the most). For example, studying 5 hours for a one credit lab class is a bad example of time management when you can be studying the same 5 hours for a 4 credit therapeutic class.

    The best tip is experience, experience, experience. Having a job in pre-pharmacy and onward will help you a lot during your school years.
  19. lvp0021

    lvp0021

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    Thanks so much for the insight... it's been so so helpful. Please continue to share your experiences.
  20. Cellycel

    Cellycel Future Nuclear Pharmacist

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    hey old timer ...wazzup thatz the way i study..some methods just dont go out of style...thanks for the advice
  21. rxlynn

    rxlynn Senior Member

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    I heartily agree! For those of you who are working, I suggest that when you come across a new drug while on the job, you take that opportunity right then to try and learn a bit about the drug. Then, even though it might be awhile until you see it in class, as aznfarmerboi points out, you'll have a patient and some past information to "hook" onto in your mind when you do study the drug.
  22. acetyl

    acetyl

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    Remembering how Tiger wins a tournament is usually the same:

    Long and straight off the tee, high and soft to about 10 feet, smooth stroke...and crowd cheering. Multiple that by about 6, throw in some holes where he has to tap in for par, and a few ridiculous up-and-downs and there you go.

    I'm going to go ahead and say that Tiger is going to get nasty this weekend and tell Southern Hills who's boss.
  23. acetyl

    acetyl

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    Told you ZPack. I know my T.W.
  24. VCU2011

    VCU2011

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    i'm going to be an entering p1 also and what i'm most worried about is the amount of time thats going to be available for us to study. i just saw our schedule and we're in class 9-4 every day *8-4 on wed*. I feel like im going to be so burned out from 7 hours of note taking that im not going to be able to sit down and focus. I really wish they did it like some med school's where they go to class from 8-10 then the rest of the day is theirs to learn it through the books and on their own. It seems like that would be a lot easier to focus on.
  25. PharmaSynergy

    PharmaSynergy Attitude is Everything

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    Hello LVP and other members! I'm a newbie to this forum--but no stranger to internet forums. (I usually post in certain automotive forums, but that's another story :D) Anyway, I thought I might as well get my feet wet here, and this thread seems as good as any to make a start.

    One of my favorite study secrets was something I learned thanks to a pharmacy professor. As an assignment, she had each student write two multiple-choice questions, based on lecture notes, of what we thought would be most important for the exam. She said that she would pick "good" questions directly from the pool of questions received from students. Well, exam day came, and lo and behold, I saw my two questions--verbatim--on the exam!! Then I knew I at least got a surefire 2% on that 100 question test. :p (just kidding; I got an "A" in that course). Anyway, I was so inspired that from that day forward, I made it a habit to compose my own multiple-choice practice exams as a study tool for each and every class. I called it the MYOT (Make Your Own Test) Method. And, the results were amazing. I felt like I was playing the role of professor instead of student. By creating those practice questions, it forced me to really weed out the insignificant and focus on the key points-- not just for exam time--but for the sake of long-run knowledge as well. I had a few other off-the-wall means of studying, but this Make Your Own Test method definitely worked the best for me. I know...there's so much to study you're probably thinking, "How on earth did you make time to study and then write questions on top of that?!" What I did was, I put asterisks next to the most important points in my lecture notes, and each day just wrote a few questions at a time. Then, a day or two before the midterm, I would take my practice exam as a pre-test. Then I would review my notes, focusing on questions I "missed", and then retake the practice exam once more. Doing these self-made exams gave me the confidence that at least "I knew what I knew". I eagerly walked into midterms and finals armed and ready to conquer even the most challenging exams (well ... with the notable exception of pharmacokinetics ... but again, that's another story :D).

    I see plenty of excellent input from others in this thread, i.e., the suggestion to take a keen interest in the subject, "personalize" it so it's more meaningful to you (i.e., pretend for example if you're studying pharmacology or pharmacotherapy, that YOU are prescribed that medication, thereby making the details more memorable). I also like the recommendation to keep concise, organized notes with a spiral notebook for each class. I vividly recall my collection of spiral notebooks. An added tip: Leave the first couple of pages blank to use as a "Table of Contents" page. I organized the TOC page into a three-column format, the first column being the lecture date, the second column was the "Lecture Topic of the Day", and the third column was for recording the page numbers for that day's lecture notes. (Yes, I numbered each page). The notebook became a handy reference tool. Today, over a decade later, I still have my pharmacy notebooks. A bit dated yes, but still a sentimental reminder of how I survived pharmacy school. ;)

    Best wishes to you in your studies, and good luck in your future endeavors!

    -PharmaSynergy
  26. Hels2007

    Hels2007 I bite Moderator Emeritus

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    Oh, I do agree that it's better to study every day than cram (even though I never managed that myself), but from sheer time-saving standpoint, it doesn't cut. Even if you only spend an hour a day rewriting per class session, and you have the class three days a week, it's three hours a week. If exam is every four weeks, it's 12 hours. Cramming would only take about 6. :p If there are five different subjects, the time saved amounts to quite a bit of time spent more pleasantly. Disclaimer: I am not advocating cramming. I am the only one of my friends who got away with starting to study the night before.
  27. Old Timer

    Old Timer SDN Advisor SDN Advisor

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    You will have labs, and some interactive classes that will not require that you sit a desk and write for 7 hours per day. Don't stress out...

    What you fail to acknowledge is if you cram for an exam, you are pretty much shot for a day or so afterward. More wasted time. Also since you need to know this stuff for the rest of your life, I think you would be better off actually learning the material.
  28. pharmagirl

    pharmagirl

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    We did this for our Pharmacology exams... It really helps if you get a group to work on it together. We actually made up 5 questions from each exam and then combined them into one large test. The questions were even in multiple choice format (with K type) just like a real exam. It was great to see how many questions we could actually predict on the exam. We learned from making the questions as well as taking the fake test! :thumbup:
  29. konkan

    konkan coup de grace

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    Since I cannot take good notes with the pace our instructors are going through the lectures, I record them and then listen at home with as many brakes as I want.


  30. Hels2007

    Hels2007 I bite Moderator Emeritus

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    I wasn't. It's not like I would stay up all night or something. No exam is worth my beauty sleep. :p

    Some of this stuff. 2/3 of what I had to memorize for various exams was/is mind-numbingly useless. I did perfectly well on rotations, on the NAPLEX, and at work, thank you very much. That's because I focused on understanding the material and gaining vital skills, rather than wasting my time on memorizing something. I am neither a computer nor a trained monkey, to regurgitate pages of memorized material. Besides, large part of the material becomes be either obsolete, long-forgotten anyway, or totally useless by the time the students start practicing.
  31. lvp0021

    lvp0021

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    Thanks so much for all the input. I truely appreciate it a lot. I myself is NOT a crammer. It just doesn't work for me. I understand the time-saving aspect of cramming but my brain just won't retain all the infos unless it gets them qd or qod ER LOL.
    I started my first day already and it seems my class are all overachievers :( It amazes me so much to talk to them and learn how they teach themselves to stay awake to study either with antidepressants, coffee or even... heat :scared::) And they told me again some of the techniques on here...
    I've had a few people PMed me and said this is a great thread that helps them a lot. Thanks so much and any further input would be great :love:
  32. PharmDstudent

    PharmDstudent

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    Caffeine works pretty well. I usually stop by a local coffee shop to get a double soy latte. They have caffeine mints too. I used to LOVE chocolate covered espresso beans, but I stopped eating dairy products so I pass on them.
    The only thing I don't like about drinking coffee or eating caffenated mints is when I ingest too much caffeine; I'll wear myself out.
    Power naps are good. My life as a student can get pretty hectic, so I'll nap at night instead of getting eight hours, because I have too much to study.
  33. pharmastu

    pharmastu

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    Hey Ivp0021! :) Thank you for this thread, I am on overseas pharmacy student about to enter my final year soon, and I must say that these tips really helped.
    Thank you everyone :D

    I believe most of you might have graduated around now, but for those who might be finding this forum useful even after all these years, here are some more tips:

    1. I use flash cards with a lot of colorful stuff all over - when you have them written on both sides, you can look at one while trying to dig out of your head what's on the other.
    Here's how our brain works (out of personal experience and some vivid and forgotten sources) - you read a bunch of 'crap' for instance. What you remember = anything that caught your attention because of color/script/interest/quick memory link to an incidence or a lecture or a person like a patient, movie stat, etc/you were trying to find out about it or heard of it somewhere else recently/you are very awake and hyper/you know you don't have an alternative (like the last minute learners/crammers).
    This is why when you read stuff, and try to question yourself your brain is actively trying to scan through everything it knows and look for the info, and when it fails to find, it will definitely 'mark that event' and remember it for the next time. Eg. when you do not answer something correctly in an exam, you are bound to remember that one question for the rest of your life over everything else that was correct too perhaps? Well, quite likely if you care enough about the test!
    That's how MYOT works too I believe.
    So anything you read, if you are immediately able to form any sort of linkages - in question form, pictures, real patients, mnemonics, it would def work!
    Eg. Morphine: side-effects MORPHINE:
    Myosis
    Out of it (sedation)
    Respiratory depression
    Pneumonia (aspiration)
    Hypotension
    Infrequency (constipation, urinary retention)
    Nausea
    Emesis
    http://www.valuemd.com/pharmacology.php

    2. Another method is to quickly go through the slideshows or notes before you attend the next lecture, so even if you just look at it once you would still be able to retain it more as well as also interconnect the lectures and understand everything better overall.

    3. Assignments are the best way because we usually do our own research and try to search for every possible bit of valid info we can include in our project before submission. Same applies here. Forget using one single text-book, try to scan through the same content range in different books. That way reading something similar from 10 different books within the same half hour or hour would exhaust your brain and in a way 'nag' it to remember. But this would only be effective on a daily basis not with too much of a pile.

    4. I personally think writing and scribbling notes from all over the place is a waste of time - no offense to anyone here, but I used to do it myself and totally regret. Think of this - what difference does it make whether you have it on all that colored paper or not if you don't remember all the fancy stuff you wrote? EXACTLY!! And when we write, we are occupying our brains into multitasking, and hence cannot entirely focus on the material to be learnt. Although you may feel like you don't remember anything thru reading only, if you read it 3-4 times at intervals (and this does NOT mean passive or sleepy reading - I am sure you are interested in the course if you choose the career), you would def remember it especially since your entire brain is now engaged only by the eyes to read and absorb and there's no divided attention spread among the hand and the book and the handwriting and picking the colours and all that ****. Try to remember then and there. Sometimes we make notes passively thinking we'll review them properly later because we're tired.
    Well, if you're just writing and writing and writing and not really learning anything off the notes you're making except for the benefit of making them, i.e. if you even actually end up having enough time to review them a few times before exams, then you might as well just be chilling at some bar sipping ice cold beer!
    I mean, why bother?
    Train yourself that if I am not going to sit and read and understand and learn it all NOW, I might as well go and have a good time! Once you start doing that and it gets into your system, a bit of the guilt and a bit of your sense of responsibility towards yourself/your career/your passion would automatically push you into programming yourself that "no I'm going to do this NOW, here, and RIGHT NOW, and I shall try to keep as minimal readings as possible so that I don't tire myself and have enough time to chill" - that sort of a mindset would give you increased focus levels.

    5. Use subliminal brain programming music like brain power or super learning or something by Kelly Howell or google search others. I have tried super learning before and it did feel like it made a difference before, but I am too overloaded with work at the moment to be able to remember it or have any slightest noise around.

    6. Teach a friend, or your teddy bear, or a baby, or a neighbor, or even your kitten or puppy or monkey! When you try to teach someone, you actually need to firstly know the concept inside out yourself! You canNOT educate someone else on what you don't properly understand, and as a process of teaching someone else, you are going to learn a lot yourself too. It's that "bulb-just-lit" kind of a situation if that rings bells lol I'm sure everyone of you has gone through it all the time.
    Or maybe I'm just one of those who experiences it max. for being a little dumb like that :/
    Anyway, teaching helps, and you'll also remember it more easily after as well as recall more easily during exams because of the process of trying to come up with an explanation that your brain probably must have gone through during the teaching process.

    7. Technology rocks. YouTube search videos by: pharm203. Animations are always so useful. Apple apps have a good variety of apps for their devices for download by FocusApps; however, it is not entirely free.

    8. Check out parodies. It could help sometimes LOL since we all love doing what we're not supposed to, for instance, youtube-ing away for hours instead of studying. Like check this one out, haha:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P0oB7eF3Fk
    You've got to be kidding me if you can't remember your basics after watching that song thrice LOL!! Unless of course you're not a fan of the original version then that's a totally different story obviously, quite understandable in that case :)

    9. Use this psychological approach on your brain - tell yourself "I do not want to kill the patient. What is important to not kill my patient out of all of this info and what else is possibly beneficial for me or them to know in the future? REMEMBER IT unless you're okay with killing someone 'by mistake'..*oopppssss*..or many people!" :p :)

    10. Don't use any caffeinated **** or power pills or any of those manufactured products. Powernaps, coffee, tea, temperature adjustments should be good enough. Only go for energy drinks if you really can tolerate them without crashing or the occasional possibilities of crashing after or during your last exam so that you're not risking headaches and the like, because anything can happen in terms of going wrong at any time depending on your stress hormones' (cortisol and crap) level and overall balance vs. the amount of sleep you've had vs. the amount of energy drinks consumed vs. dietary changes/intakes. A slight miss and it could ruin it all for you, so you might as well play it safe.
    And this might be a surprise, but GREEN TEA works for me! Yes, it's a little bitter when you have it strong, but once cup is enough to set you buzzing. It does get some people nauseated too though! So please don't experiment with that right before exams - google the side effects and try it on a regular day. Having dry seeded bread along helps keep you from feeling nauseated in case you've skipped too many meals out of stress and want to still have it.
    P.S. I mean any proper Chinese herbal green tea like even the Oolong and not some factory-ish type of material like Twinnings, etc, although it might work - I don't know - but I've tried and I don't really like it.
    P.S.S. If you add 2 teabags of green tea in a cup of boiling water and forget about it for a while, say half an hour or even a couple of hours depending on how much bitterness and buzz of alertness you can tolerate, then you could possibly try that out - leave it for a while and then down it (as it's going to be a little bitter already by then).

    I guess that's about it. All I could think of/recall for now. I love those different shapes of fluorescent coloured flash cards by the way! :p So oh-la-la! :D

    Anyway, good luck with everything everyone, and thank you for sharing the tips, really helped :D
    I am considering group study and also writing proper MYOTs as well revising those after reading all that :D

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