Six tips from honors students on how to ace your finals

Prowl interviewed some University Honors Program students with the highest GPAs at Chapman to get some helpful tips on establishing better study habits, such as using the Pomodoro Technique, working with other people to get multiple perspectives on a topic and how to find the best study spot.


1. Try the Pomodoro Technique

Would you rather take three hours to get one thing done, or  an hour and 20 minutes to get four things done? The Pomodoro Technique, created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, provides a framework to help you get more done in less time. The main premise behind the Pomodoro Technique is to work in blocks of time, typically 25 minutes long, followed by a five minute break. These intervals are named pomodoros, the English plural of the Italian word “pomodoro,” which translates to  tomato, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Citrillo used as a college student. Each Pomodoro session demands your full attention on one task, and every break requires you to step away from your work to rest.

Here’s how to implement the Pomodoro Technique:

Make a to-do list of the assignments you absolutely need to do that day and set time frames for each task. For example:

  • 25 minutes – HON 498
  • 25 minutes – Portfolio
  • Five minute break
  • 25 minutes – IES 492
  • 25 minutes – Presentation
  • Five minute break

The result is improved productivity and satisfaction with your work, as well as decreased boredom.

Download the “Focus Keeper Free: work & Study Timer” app

2. Get a planner

Even if you think that all of your assignments and reminders can be stored in your head, top students find  reminder apps, calendars, and planners to be extremely helpful in getting tasks done and remembering everything that you need to accomplish and when. The apps below allow you to set aside time for studying and set reminders to get your assignments in on time.

Recommended apps: Blackboard, Google Tasks

Photo by Marissa Dunn


3. Treat yo self!

As it turns out, giving yourself a small reward after a long study session is a good practice. Treating yourself can be as simple as watching a show or enjoying a nice meal. Try to make it less about expecting a reward and more about doing something to take care of your mind and body after a long day of work. Work-life balance is important, even in college! Of course, it’s also necessary to recognize that even if you didn’t finish reading the entire textbook before bed,you are still allowed to rest. Being kind to yourself and treating yourself  is a good rule of thumb.

4. Know when to work alone versus when to work with people

Working with people or in groups is only a great idea if you are struggling with the content on a conceptual level. Having a fellow student explain their take on a subject rather than a professor  can sometimes be effective and better for memory, as your peers may be able to explain concepts in simplified terms, which is easier to comprehend and remember than the more complex academic versions discussed in class. In the group setting, you get to hear multiple perspectives and work through your confusion with individuals in your group who understand the subject matter more fully. However, when it comes to memorizing and writing, it’s best to go solo. For example, study by yourself for test preparation, and then do a partner or group review the day before a big exam.

Photo by Marissa Dunn

5. Find your work space

Having a set place and time to study can make all the difference. Every honors student suggested establishing a work space far from distractions. Libraries are a good place to study because they are usually filled with people who are also working, reinforcing the notion that you are there to work – not to chit chat or surf the net.

Photo by Hannah Harp

6. Review as you go

Even if a test isn’t on the horizon, the act of reviewing material briefly helps store that information in your long-term memory, so you’ll already have it memorized when the test day arrives. One  activity that helps some students retain information is studying with a friend and verbally reviewing the material. By talking it out, especially the concepts that are the most difficult, some students find that they remember the conversation better on the test day and even find that explaining the information to a friend solidifies their understanding of the information. Plus, you get to hear your friend’s thoughts on the concept as well. It’s a win-win!

These students contributed to tips for this story:

  • Sofya Bochkareva
  • Brittney Bringuez
  • Taylor Killefer
  • Kylie Miller




Five Hiking Trails within 45 Minutes of Chapman

Delving into nature by hiking offers a way to find silence and clarity. In addition to reducing stress and clearing our heads, hiking also burns calories. What’s not to like? Finding hiking trails near Chapman can be tricky, so we’ve made the search easier with these five trails under an hour away.

Each destination may contain different routes. Click on trail name to see trail maps and more information.

  1. Crystal Cove: There are multiple routes that you can choose from – all travel across a variety of terrain and allow you to admire the ocean and cliffs.
  • Maximum distance: 2.9 miles
    • Distance from Chapman: 20-30 min.
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 505 ft
  • Dogs: No
  • Parking: $15

Photos by Marissa Dunn and courtesy of California Beaches.

  1. Black Star Canyon: Frequent hikers probably know of the Black Star Canyon Trail, accessed off Highway 241 at Santiago Canyon. After a few miles you will turn left onto Silverado Canyon, then left onto Black Star Canyon Road. This trail requires crossing streams and rock scrambling.
  • Maximum distance: 6.8 miles
    • Distance from Chapman: 20-30 min.
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 941 ft
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: $15

Photos courtesy of

  1. Big Bend Loop, Laguna Coast: Offers the chance to see wildlife and is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and nature trips. The first portion is very steep, but the intense cardio is worth it for the stunning views.
  • Maximum distance: 5.8 miles
    • Distance from Chapman: 20-30 min
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation gain: 889 ft.
  • Dogs: No
  • Parking : $3

Photo courtesy of The Outbound Collective

4. San Clemente Beach Trail: This trail extends from the Metro Station parking lot at North Beach to Calafia State Beach in the south. This is a flat, crushed granite trail that’s shared by walkers, runners, bikers, dogs and strollers. Because it’s a flat out-and-back trail, you can make it as easy or challenging as you want.

  • Maximum distance: 4.6 miles

    • Distance from Chapman: 45 min
  • Time: ~1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 50 ft
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: Free

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hester and Go Hike it

  1. Peters Canyon Hike: Recovering from a fire last year, Peters Canyon offers a variety of trails for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
  • Maximum distance: 5.9 miles
    • Distance from Chapman: 15-20 min
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 680ft
  • Dogs: Yes (on leash only)
  • Parking: Small fee

Photo courtesy of Trailing Friday  

5 Adventures To Complete Before You Graduate

Any Chapman alumni you talk to will say “those four years go by so fast.” To help cope with your impending graduation, here are five activities you should try to complete during your time at Chapman. They won’t make time slow down, but they will help you create memories that could last a lifetime.

1. Jump off the high dive

Simon Duyuygan, a sophomore Strategic Corporate Communication major, shows off a 2 ½ pike off the high dive. Photo by Marissa Dunn

Not feeling undie run this semester? Jump off the high dive instead! There are plenty of ways to access the pool, so there’s no excuse not to give this one the old college try. If you’re feeling extra risky, some people even do this activity naked.

2. Laugh until you cry at Improv!

Tom Schuyler of Improv Inc. performs in the Irvine Lecture Hall at Chapman University Monday night. Photo courtesy of Drew A. Kelley

Ever yearn to see a skit about your drunk uncle attending your chem class? Every other Thursday night at Irvine Lecture Hall, hilarious skits are put on by your fellow peers in Chapman’s Improv Inc. It’s free so there’s no reason to miss out! Stay up to date with @chapmanimprov on Instagram.

3. Use the pit by the dorm pool for a bonfire

Make sure to gather blankets, graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, and anything else you need for a memorable and delicious bonfire! Photo by Marissa Dunn

This activity is perfect if you don’t want to drive 15 miles to the beach and get all sandy. S’mores, guitar playing, and deep conversation can be found around the fire pit next to the Chapman dorm pool.

4. Tailgate a sporting event

Nico Martinez and his family enjoy tailgating at parents weekend. Photo courtesy of Marcella Martinez

Get into the Panther spirit by grabbing some friends and munching on burgers and snacks outside Beckman Hall before Chapman’s home football games. Alternate: pick up some rowdy friends and do a real tailgate at Hart Park before a Panther baseball game. Follow home and away games with @chapmansports on Instagram.

5. Attend Open Mics in the circle

The Ugly Mug Cafe is just a short walk from Chapman, so head over and enjoy the great atmosphere and delicious food. Photo courtesy of The Ugly Mug Cafe.

Head to the Ugly Mug Cafe for live entertainment like Open Mic Nights and Poetry Readings! For those who want to perform their own poem, sign ups are open before the event. Check out for more details.

Once you complete your activity, post a photo on social media with the tag #chapmanbucketlist and a checkmark to show you’ve completed it. As they all say, pics or it didn’t happen!


The 10 Stages of Parking at Chapman

Stage 1: “How did I get to campus so fast? Maybe I will have enough time to get Starbucks before class.”

Stage 2: “Oh there’s a spot… UGH stupid motorcycle!”

Stage 3: “They would add 20 reserved spots for guests….technically I am a guest right?”


Stage 4: “WHY do people think it is okay to drive 80 mph in a parking garage?!”


Stage 5: “Yes please, walk slower. I don’t have to get to class or anything.”


Stage 6: “YES I found one” *someone steals it*


Stage 7: “I’ll just wait here and stalk someone walking to their car”


Stage 8: “I’ve been driving in circles for 20 minutes”


Stage 9: “Screw it I am parking illegally”

Stage 10: “I give up, I am parking in Dodge/Narnia and walking”