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Finals 101: Tips & Tricks for Acing Your Finals

Finals can be the most stressful time of the year for college students, so here is a quick guide with tips and tricks to get you through this finals season.

Create a study schedule & strategy.

The first thing you should do before even thinking about studying for finals is to write down the dates of the exams. My suggestion is to use a weekly calendar and write in the class, time and location of each of your exams. After this, you should rank each exam based on your confidence level of the subject. Then you can use this ranking to determine the amount of time you want to allot for each exam and start to schedule a specific time to study specific topics. It would be helpful to write down the topics covered on each exam and study in chunks, that way you don’t feel overwhelmed trying to cover a semester of material in an hour. 

It is best to start studying for your final five days in advance for at least two hours a day. Based on the exam and your confidence level, you can adjust the amount of time you study. Two hours a day for five days is a fairly good starting point. Don’t procrastinate!

Find the perfect study spot for you. 

When it comes to finding a location to study, it’s all about what works best for you. If you study better with little background noise, a place like a coffee shop would probably be ideal, but if you need absolute quiet to focus, then maybe the library would be a better option. It is also a good idea to change locations every once in a while so you don’t get tired of the same old thing. You could switch where you sit at the library or which coffee shops you study at, and study outside every once in a while! It’s good to get some fresh air and it’s a perfect way to change up your study scenery. 

Communicate with others.

There are three main groups of people you need to be communicating with this exam season: roommates, classmates and professors. Living with roommates can be challenging at any given time, but during finals it can become even more difficult. It is important that you communicate when you’ll need quiet in your dorm/apartment/house to study and, with many finals being administered virtually this year due to COVID, you should all communicate your exam times so that they aren’t disrupting you mid-exam or vice versa. 

It is important to communicate with other classmates regarding test material. Even though you are all theoretically given the same material, you never know when a classmate may have a helpful resource, or say something that reminds you of an important thought, idea or resource. The more minds working together, the stronger they can become! It can be easy to want to study alone but communicating with classmates and participating in study groups is also important when it comes to studying for any exam, not just finals. 

Last, but certainly not least, communicating with your professor is a vital part of studying for finals. After all, that’s who’s writing your final! Utilize professor’s office hours and make the most of them. You can write down any questions that come up as you study and go through the list with your professor to get the clarification you need. Their answers may even bring up more questions you need answered or lead your professor to give you some helpful tips on the exam. 

Don’t forget to prioritize your health.

When stressing about finals, it can be easy to throw all of your energy towards studying or worrying and forget to focus on yourself. During these stressful times, prioritizing your health mentally, physically and emotionally becomes even more important. Take time for yourself at least once a day to practice self-care. You can go for a walk, take a hot bath, do a facemask, watch an episode of your favorite show or do something for yourself to help ease your stress. Trust me, you can spare 15 minutes to treat yourself. 

You also want to keep your mind and body at their best! Make sure you are creating time to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day and eating healthy. Foods such as fatty fish, nuts, eggs, oranges, broccoli and dark chocolate are all great choices to boost your brain and memory - perfect for acing those exams!

Don’t panic!

I know, not the best thing to tell someone who is panicking, but it would do you well to remind yourself that at the end of the day, it’s just an exam. If you fail, you fail. If you have to retake the course, you retake the course and move on. It happens to the best of us. All you can do is study hard, get a good night’s sleep, show up prepared and do your very best!

Kate is a sophomore Mechanical Engineering student with a concentration in Biomedical Engineering at Bradley University. In her free time, she enjoys shopping, watching Netflix, working out, creating art projects, and cuddling with her dog and two cats. Kate is the Assistant Graphic Designer on Bradley University Her Campus's Social Media Team as well as Public Relations Exec Chair for Epsilon Sigma Alpha, a member of Society of Women in Engineering, and a member of Bradley's Honors Program.
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