It happens to the best of us; we procrastinate studying for finals until last minute and find ourselves cramming! Although this is not the ideal situation, there are ways you can make your studying the most effective in a small amount of time. So what can you do to make the most out of those hours of studying for a final?
Make your own study guide.
Before doing any studying, make a list of what could be covered on the exam. Hopefully your professor has given you an idea of what to study – look at class notes, homework, or example tests. Be sure to study those topics and problems first. Then go through the material and take notes, making sure to know vocabulary and major concepts. For an idea, look at the questions that are often at the end of sections to figure out what the key ideas are. Once you have a good set of information you need to know, try reading your notes out loud. “Listening to yourself speak the words oftentimes helps to retain the information”.
Use flash cards.
To help solidify the information in your head, an extremely helpful thing to do is make flashcards. “The process of actually writing words on note cards helps the brain retain information. Go through the stack and remove the cards that you know until there are no cards left. “Ideally, you should be able to go through your cards and get everything right on the first try, then put the cards away for a little while, then come back and do it again”.
Study with people in the same class.
Only do this if the group you’re studying with is serious about studying! If you’re working productively, working with others can be a huge help! Especially if you skip class a lot, your classmates can help you catch up on what you missed. Also, “you will remember more from a group study session because it’s more like a social conversation – watching and listening to other people in an interactive environment will make things stick more than reading them on your own”.
The best thing to do is sleep. “While you sleep, your brain will encode the information it just took in. It no longer will rest in your short term memory but more so in your long term memory”. Get to bed early enough to get a good night sleep and be able to wake up and study for an hour before the final to review what you’ve already covered.
Good luck and study hard! HCXO