We get it—you’re strapped for time during the regular semester and you just want to enjoy your holiday time off. But there’s something to be said for making the most of your time off – intellectually. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a drag. Plus, dedicating some time during the holidays could lighten your load for the upcoming semester. Here, some ways to stay sharp in your time off: Test Prep Preparation – Whether you’re studying for the SATs or the MCATs, who needs the added burden of studying for THE test, when you have other tests, mid-terms, finals, reading, quizzes, papers and group projects that are demanding your attention too? It’s all just too much. Do yourself a favor and handle test prep in your downtime. You’ll be able to focus more attention toward it and your regular school work won’t suffer. Prepare for Upcoming Curricula – Use your holiday time wisely and ease your load during the semester with this trick: contact your upcoming teachers and professors and ask for the class syllabus so you can get a head start! Spend Your Time Reading – You’ve heard of a summer reading list. Well, how about a holiday reading list? Down time is the perfect time to catch up on all the books you’ve been wanting to read, but didn’t have the time for during the regular semester. Reading for pleasure is not only fun, but also builds your vocabulary, expands your mind intellectually, and helps you become a better writer. Make your time even more valuable by reading classics you never had time to read (War and Peace, anyone?), non-fiction, the latest in politics, or history. But even if you select the latest book in Oprah’s book club, trust, an hour reading is ALWAYS better spent than an hour watching Jersey Shore. After all, some books just become part of the national conversation, and being an educated and intellectual member of society means being able to be in on that conversation yourself. Now that’s the “Situation”. Tip: highlight words you’re not familiar with, look them up and use them in a sentence that day. Play Games – Here’s an opportunity to expand your mind while having fun. Mental games like crossword puzzles and Sudoku have some benefits you may be surprised to hear. Did you people who work on crossword puzzles often have a lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders, according to Docstoc.com. And if you want to go it with a partner try Cranium or other games that stretch your brain.