As final season quickly approaches, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about so many things. Maybe you have a few cumulative exams and you just don’t know where to begin. It’s possible that you really hate one of your classes, and studying for it is as torturous as pulling teeth. Don’t think you’re alone in feeling like you want to give up because it’s literally impossible to get an A in one of your classes at this point in the semester. We have all been there, and we all get through it and learn from these tough times. With the holidays approaching, it’s normal to become distracted by thoughts of holiday cheer, and a break from school. I mean isn’t Thanksgiving break such a tease? Regardless, don’t give up yet! You have worked tirelessly all semester long, so let’s make sure you get the grades you deserve.
In my last semester of college, I honestly still struggle with studying more often than I care to admit. Through trial and error, I have mastered my preferred method of study, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I’m writing to you to offer some tips on how to prepare for finals. I hope it helps!
- Pace yourself
If there’s one thing I learned during college, it’s that I perform exponentially better on tests when I prepare over a longer period of time (roughly two weeks) rather than a couple of days, and certainly better than if I decide to cram the night before. When you have a lot of material to tackle, taking it slow and starting early allows you to repeat the material to yourself a little bit each day, which means you have a better chance of getting it into your long term memory. Starting two weeks before your exam takes the stress out of studying. It also allows for buffer time (aka procrastination) as well as being able to enjoy other activities and not feel consumed by schoolwork. You’ll feel at ease, so when you study you aren’t rushed, and may retain information more efficiently. If you feel like two weeks is too long in advance, do what’s comfortable for you. Instead, try studying more frequently throughout the day. Study on the bus, while you wait in line for something, and most importantly, every time you have the urge to check your social media outlets, study instead! This has worked wonders for me to stop me from procrastinating and wasting precious time. After your test, you can browse “The Gram” as much as you like as your reward for consistent studying. If you lack the self-discipline for this, (because it’s honestly really tough), there are different apps you can get that lock you out of apps on your phone, etc.
- Do NOT sacrifice sleep
You don’t need me to remind you how important sleep is. Despite this, so many college students survive on coffee and pull all-nighters the night before an exam. You may think Starbucks is your best friend…it isn’t! This is a really bad idea. Number one, it isn’t healthy. How can you perform well on a test if you’re exhausted and possibly fall ill? Also, you retain way less when you try to jam a boatload of concepts, ideas, and key terms into your brain in one sitting. Stop doing that! Prepare in advance, as mentioned above, because when you do there is no reason to miss out on some shut-eye. Your brain also consolidates what you’ve gathered throughout the day during sleep, so if you pull an all-nighter, or miss out on a full sleep cycle and the REM stage, you’re seriously doing yourself a disservice. I mean, I don’t think you want to show up to take your test looking like Squidward.
- Make time for exercise
It’s easy to prioritize studying and feel that working out is a waste of time when you’re so busy. But studies prove that physical activity actually helps us retain information better. Plus, it assists us in remaining alert, and we avoid wasting time due to feeling groggy and unfocused.
- Don’t forget about your friends/ take time to recharge
Social interaction is so important on a regular basis. Locking yourself in your room, or staying isolated from the world in a library stall may feel productive, and may very well be. However, you have to remember to take care of your wellbeing, especially at times when you need to perform important tasks. Take time to recharge. I promise it will help you be productive. Have a jam sesh, hang out with a friend, or go for a walk in the woods and connect to nature. Life is more pleasurable when we have balance. And the best part is that we can still be successful students and do fun things at the same time.
- Try to enjoy learning! Isn’t that an important part of college?
I won’t lie, I didn’t always love learning. I wanted to take the tests and get the A, and move on with it, assuming I would never revisit the nonsense material I was studying ever again. And I regret all the time I spent doing that. It wasn’t until my second year of college that I started to actually enjoy learning new things. I mean if I’m paying for, I might as well enjoy it right? And I thought, “Wow, I should really be grateful that I have access to an education like this, because so many people all over the world don’t, and may never. I’m really lucky.” So I started appreciating it. Don’t get me wrong- I was always one to love school…I was the teacher’s pet on numerous occasions. That was just me. Bu freshman year of college came as a shock, and I was so busy figuring out my way and finding myself that I kind of lost my passion for learning new things. It was not until I enrolled in American Sign Language that my fire for learning was lit again. Regardless, I tried to really love what I was learning. It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had boring professors, learned seemingly useless things… but the more I try to appreciate education, the more I do. And I recommend you genuinely attempt to do the same. I know it can be hard, and tiring, and that feeling of being “burnt out” is a painfully familiar one. But the best part about learning is that it changes you. It really does. You may not notice it at first, or maybe you do. I’m blessed enough to look back and think, “Wow, that class truly changed my life” for multiple classes I’ve taken over the years. So let that be my final word of advice to help you prepare for finals. Try your best to enjoy what you’re studying because hey, it just may change your life.
Good luck. You got this.