Study Tips: Sabotaging Ourselves Before Tests

Self-sabotage affecting your grades?
Take some advice from Mark Twain.

By Texas State SLAC

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.”
— Mark Twain

Mark Twain teaches a good lesson: Students can get so caught up making good grades that they forget to learn. Also, students sabotage themselves by practicing bad study techniques that further hinder their actually learning. Many of you know things you should and should not do before a test, but this will be a good reminder of good and bad test prep.


  • Pull all-nighters. Do this and you often won’t remember what you were studying—and may be unable to concentrate the next day. Plan so that you will never have to pull an all-nighter.
  • Drink TOO much caffeine. This creates a high—and a crash. Plus sleep is compromised. A little caffeine isn’t bad; simply “drink in moderation.”
  • Study with fun friends. “Fun” friends distract you. Study with those as serious as you are or as you want to be. Also, before a study session, learn the material so you’ll discern wrong from right answers to questions.
  • Rely on adrenalin. Cramming may seem to work, but you are cheating yourself out of education you’re paying for. Take enough time before the test to absorb material so that you can build on it later.
  • Remind yourself what’s at stake too often. While we need to tell ourselves how important a test or paper is, if this causes too much stress, tone down the pressure and try positive reinforcement. For studying, reward yourself with a movie, some candy, a manicure, a massage, or tubing in or a picnic at the river.


  • Eat well, take vitamins, exercise and, once again, SLEEP during the week. Nothing is as big of a time-waster and grade-wrecker as illness!
  • Get your flu shot! See the Student Health Center website for times flu shots are available on campus, or call the Student Health Center at 512.245.2161 for more information about the vaccine and where you can get it.
  • Plan ahead: Make sure to set aside the necessary time to fully prepare for your test.
  • Schedule a little time after each class to review your notes from that day. You will be amazed at what you have retained!

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