By Vincent Whelan | Feb 1 2016With the start of a new semester upon us, it’s time to look at the best ways to help you avoid those panic-stricken, hectic final days before exams. We’re all guilty of procrastinating sometimes, but by applying these simple tips, you’re sure to notice an improvement in your own studies.1. Play video game music: For those looking for a new study soundtrack, the music from video games is particularly helpful for memory retention. The reason behind its suitability for studying is that these soundtracks are designed to keep the user alert, without distracting them from the task at hand. There are some great playlists on YouTube or Spotify. Word of warning though, you may occasionally be overcome with nostalgia when certain classic themes jog your memory. 2. Have an exercise-themed break: Studying all day can leave you feeling lethargic, so why not try to incorporate exercise into your study breaks? A trip to the on-campus gym (free for all students), swimming pool or even partaking in one of the numerous sports clubs UCD has to offer can have some fantastic benefits for studying. It is well known that exercise improves your attention span and your ability to juggle different academic subjects.3. Write instead of typing: A study called ‘Digitizing Literacy’ confirms that we retain more knowledge by writing notes out by hand compared to typing them up. While many people do understandably prefer the speed of taking notes down on a laptop during a lecture, maybe try transcribing them into your copy while in the less stressful environment of the library. If nothing else, it can also add a bit of variety to your study routine.4. Try a different study spot: Again, this may not be for everyone as some people are creatures of habit and become very irritated when someone has the audacity to take ‘their’ library seat. However, studies show that learning similar material in a different location everyday actually helps our memory. This is because we force our brains to form new associations with the same material, thereby making it a stronger memory. Tell this to yourself next time somebody steals the good seat beside the plugs and/or radiator. 5. Apps that help you study: It may seem counter-intuitive, but technology can actually help you stay focused nowadays. Instead of being sucked into a black hole of procrastination, where you waste away countless hours on Facebook or Reddit, you can use the internet to help you study. Apps like ‘SelfControl’ or websites like Cold Turkey allow you to block certain websites that you feel are distracting for a set period of time. Another one worth getting is ‘iStudiez Pro’, which works for Mac, iPhone and iPad, it enables you to keep track of your timetable and semester deadlines as well as personal engagements. 6. Life Skills section of JJL: Never underestimate the power held within James Joyce Library. The Life Skills section can be found on the ground floor of the library, just on the right of the main desk. We spoke to Library Assistant Niall O’Brien, who described how it was the one aspect of the library more students need to know about. He recommended the Life Skills section as it has books on a range of topics that offer a nice break from strictly academic texts. These include mental health and how to cope with stress, which are crucial mechanisms that help to keep our studies in perspective. We all get stressed out sometimes, but as important as doing well in college exams and assignments is, there are far more important things in life.