The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
November is already halfway over, and December is just around the corner. The start of the chilly month may mean it’s finally appropriate to blast Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” all day long, but it also tends to mean something scary for college students: finals season is beginning.
As a freshman, I remember making myself sick over my first finals at Texas A&M University. In high school, my “finals” were optional for students who had a certain grade in the class and limited absences, so I had limited experience with final exams before pursuing my degree. And these were college finals. Were they even comparable?
On top of navigating my first semester of college, I also felt a step behind everyone else as a first-generation college student. This added level of stress made the thought of taking finals extremely overwhelming, and being exempt from taking finals was something that only existed in high school.
So, I studied… a lot. I studied using a variety of methods at coffee shops, on campus, and in my apartment. My over-preparedness paid off, and I did really well on my exams. Now as a third-year student, I realize that I didn’t have to make myself sick over constantly reviewing material had I known how to properly study.
To try and save other college students from making the same mistake as me (wasting precious college time studying and being overly stressed about exams), here are three study tips that have helped me ace my finals.
1. Ask your professor about the exam
While not all professors are the same, in my experience, most of them are willing to help you out when you ask. You can go to their office hours, send them an email, or talk to them after class. I like to ask about the exam format—Is it multiple choice? Short answer? In-person? Online?—and the exam content—Is it cumulative? Application-based? Mainly vocabulary?—to try and relieve my anxiety about the mysterious, unknown test. Typically, my professors will share some type of insight on the exam that can better help me prepare.
2. Make a Review Sheet
Some professors provide a review sheet for their exams, so be sure to use this opportunity to your advantage. Fill out the review sheet and talk to your professor (or trusted classmates) about questions that you’re struggling with. If your professor doesn’t provide a review sheet, make your own. Use your syllabus and course modules to find the main topics you learned about, and then add bullet points under each. This is a time when asking about the exam may prove to be extremely beneficial.
3. Write down important points by hand
This tip is something I live by. We live in an age where everything is done on our phones, tablets, or laptops, and while this isn’t a bad thing, it has made it harder for me to study in the past. When it comes to exam preparation, a piece of paper and a pencil will be your best friends. Handwritten notes help you remember things better, so try to write out the most important points multiple times. Bonus tip: when you sit down to take the test, have a piece of scratch paper and a pencil with you (if allowed) and write out these points right when the exam starts.
Don’t let your finals get the best of you. A little bit of preparation can go a long way. And if you’re lacking in motivation, just remind yourself how close you are to having a long-awaited winter break (full of Mariah Carey).
Disclaimer: I am not an academic professional. These tips helped me study efficiently, but they may not work for everyone. If you’re a student at Texas A&M, visit the Academic Success Center, online at asc.tamu.edu or in person on the 9th floor of Rudder Tower, to speak with academic experts about your studying habits.