Finals season is upon us and it’s time to prepare ourselves for papers and exams that are closing in. We will all try cramming in a whole semester’s worth of knowledge into one night or, focus too much on studying for Political Science when we should have been studying for Astronomy. This is a stressful and confusing time that is hard for anyone to manage. I cannot say there is one definite trick that will work for every final and for every person, but there are a few different things that you can do to try and study “smart”.
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There are a few habits that I have developed over the years that have helped me through the multiple projects, papers, and tests. For classes that require more memorization, the best method of attack is flashcards. I feel like no matter how old you are, or where you are in your life, flashcards will always be an easy way to remember facts. Using those little pieces of paper has helped me remember that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and that the periodic symbol for lead is Pb. The best thing about flashcards is that they make studying with other people easier; collaboration can help you find new ways to remember facts that you would otherwise overlook.
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Being a visual learner myself, I often use my notes or the textbook for the majority of my studying. Rereading and even rewriting helps me to retain information that I might have missed during the lecture or the first time I read the text. I would say this method is a little more tedious and time-consuming, but for those who like reading, this might be an effective means of obtaining important information. I like to rewrite my notes because the process becomes muscle memory so that when the final comes around I almost use the same wording on the exam that I had in my notes. This method isn’t for everyone; I would say this type of studying works better for comprehensive classes like English and History that involve a lot of reading and writing anyway.
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The most important thing that I do in preparation for my finals isn’t exactly studying but, planning when and how I am going to study. Obviously, we all have finals that have more weight than others, so it is important to prioritize and compartmentalize your studying. I usually save the majority of the day before a final for that particular final but, I also take some time to focus on my other work as to not cram too much and to keep my other responsibilities in mind. The best way to study is to understand when you should study and how much time you need to spend studying for every final that you have. Finals season brings exams, as well as projects and papers, and it is essential to leave yourself time to finish that work in the midst of your studying.
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Finals week gives us the feeling that time is never on our side; either there isn’t enough time in a day or sleep couldn’t come any sooner. No matter how we feel, the work and the exams are still inevitable. Not only is it important to study, but it is important to study “smart” by whatever means necessary. We don’t all study the same way, but I hope you find these methods helpful during this stressful time.
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