Sponsored feature, words by Fay Millar

You spend hours studying to get those grades and here at Mcgraw-Hill Education we get it: you already work hard, but are you working smart? These small, scientifically proven (and seemingly strange) tweaks make the most of your time and squeeze those study sessions for optimal productivity. Try these study hacks before your next big exam to boost your performance.

Refresh Your Font

Got lots of reading to do in very little time? Convert the font to 14-point Times New Roman. Studies show readers consume words in this font and size faster and more accurately than they do an article written in 12-point.

Banish Multitasking

Think you're being super productive by juggling more than one task? According to studies, you're actually reducing productivity and being less efficient with your time. In a series of experiments, three researchers found that the more often the subjects switched from task to task, the more time they lost. This is because our brains take a few moments to catch up when we're switching gears. To make the most of your time studying, focus on one task, complete it, and then move on to the next. You're saving the precious minutes it takes your mind to adjust to a new effort.

Get a Job Alongside Your Studies

You may not like this one, but studies show that students who pay their own tuition or work throughout university produce higher grades. One researcher found that financial aid provided by parents directly lowered students' grades. Although this may seem counterintuitive (after all, having to work means you'll have less time to study), some students mentioned that when crunched for time, they felt compelled to really focus and were motivated to do well because they understood the value of an education.

Use Scents to Trigger Memories and Boost Your Recall

Does passing your next test require amazing memorisation? Try inhaling a unique scent while studying and then again while taking your exam. An intriguing study suggests that properly used, scents may be a powerful trigger in helping to revive memories. More evidence is still being gathered, but it can't hurt to try a new perfume, can it? (Just make sure your classmates don't mind!)

Raise Your Study Room Temperature for Better Results

It's commonly assumed that lower temperatures keep us more alert and productive, but this compelling study found that test subjects made significantly less mistakes when the temperature was raised from 20 degrees to 25. The researchers concluded that sitting in a chilly room directs a person's energy toward keeping warm instead of staying focused, thus, diminishing brainpower. This trend continued in another study, which found that 25 degrees is optimal for memory retention. Before hitting the books, keep that magic number in mind when you're setting the thermostat.

Natural Light Boosts Performance

Instead of plugging away under fluorescents, work outside or by a window. This research concludes that studying in natural light reduces sleepiness and improves cognitive performance. Even if you tend to study in the evenings, getting prime time outdoors and soaking up some rays (using proper UV protection, of course!) each day will keep your mind sharp.

For further study support, tips and tricks to help you settle back into uni and to study smarter this semester, take a look at our learning hub.