Exam week is upon us. For us veterans, we're no stranger to all-nighters in the library and trying to sustain life on nine cups of coffee (and going through the nine stages coffee addiction), not to mention a severe lack of sleep. If you've been hitting the books the night before every exam this semester and your GPA is riding on these finals, fear not. Your life is about to get easier.

I had the privilege of getting the inside scoop from the real coffee experts themselves: our friendly neighborhood Starbucks baristas. As the best memorizers in the game, who else can we trust to give us exam-cramming advice other than the caffeine angels who deal with our triple venti extra foam, no whip, skinny mocha latte day in and day out?  


coffee, cappuccino, milk, espresso, cream, chocolate, sweet, mocha
Luna Zhang

Adam: "I learn hands on better, so by making drinks I learn them. So, for studying I like to write my notes multiple times."

Karis: "My favorite [study practice] for languages and memorization is to write them down in sentences. That really helps me because I have to put the word in context and then I learn other words by making sentences. Writing things down is great. Repeating things out loud after I read them also is helpful.

The repetition of writing cups is the same. Then calling them out when you put them in the hand-off plane for a customer. I feel like everyone at Starbucks says you learn by doing, and that's true. But if you make the same drink 10 times a day and then you read it off the cups and call it out 10 times a day, it's bound to stick."

Create Acronyms

Meaghan: "Instead of trying to memorize everything all at once, I memorized the series of numbers for how many shots or pumps and then go back and say, 'Okay, venti iced is the largest and that gets three shots, so grande gets two shots, and tall and short get 1 shot.' It's easier for me to memorize a sequence and then use that to associate it rather than to memorize all of it separately."

Annie: "Using mnemonics helps me remember tricky words and concepts, which can also be applied when making drinks."

Diana: "What worked for me in memorizing shot and syrup pumps was the same thing I did for a few classes when I had to memorize a timeline or events or people in a certain order: make a song out of it or a phrase and say it a lot, like, in your sleep a lot."

Look For Patterns

Alexa: "I would look for patterns in things, because you can boil everything down to the same four basic steps, just substituting different flavors. Find similarities between drinks that got similar toppings, like how anything with java chips gets mocha drizzle, and anything made with a sauce as opposed to a syrup gets whipped cream.

In math classes, I always try to figure out the patterns in problems and how different methods for solving them are similar to each other. Or in a class where I have to just memorize stuff, I find words that are similar to each other, or all relate to a similar thing and memorize them with the patterns that happen from it."

Terence: "Most drinks, I feel, are made the same just with different syrup. I usually focus more on the ones that are different. When the material is similar, it's easier to separate it by the small details they don't have in common."


Rudy: "Practice and repetition—that's the only thing that works for me. The more I do something, the more likely I am to memorize it. I didn't really become comfortable until my first rush because I was forced to practice and repeat the drinks over and over again."

Kyle: "It's important to get the basic drinks down pat first. Then practice when it's slow, and don't hop on the bar when you're slammed.

For exams, start early. If you cram last minute, you're asking for a miserable night. Try and put in even just 15-30 minutes per class every day. The day before an exam should just be quick review and relaxing time. It's similar to don't practice when you're slammed. If you study, or practice, when there's not much going on you will be much better prepared when the exam or rush comes around."

Go With Your Gut

Michelle: "Under pressure...go with your gut feeling and best of luck from there!"

Good luck with finals, and don't forget to thank your favorite baristas. We couldn't get through this without them.