Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again! We’ve all just had ourselves a nice, mini vacation – stuffing our faces with turkey, mashed potatoes, and whatever else our forefathers ate, forgetting for a nice minute that finals week is just around the corner. For most of us, right about now the panic is starting to settle in. A feeling of regret is starting to creep up as you realize all of those hours spent watching Gossip Girl on Netflix could have been used to work on problem sets and study groups. Fear no more! Here are six tips on how to ace your finals!
1) Make a game plan.
Before you even start studying for your exam, make sure to create a detailed plan of what topics you’re going to study and how much time you should dedicate to each topic. This is important because many times students will focus too much time on a topic that is not as important as other topics. The best way to strategize is to number a paper and write down the order of what you would like to study first. Personally, I like to take it section by section: first reading the notes and relevant textbook readings, then working on problem sets, and then the practice midterms and finals (if available). An important thing to remember is that a lot of teachers make their problem sets harder than their actual midterms/finals because unlike a on a test, you aren’t on a time limit when working on problem sets. If you are able to understand the problem sets, then you will most likely be able to do the problems on the final!
2) Eliminate distractions.
One thing that can make or break the passing of a final is distractions, the number one thing being television! As much as I would love to keep up with Kourtney and Khloe in the Hamptons, I would also love to pass school. Remember, your shows aren’t going anywhere. Luckily, we now live in an environment where you can literally watch anything online. If you miss an episode of your favorite show, don’t fret! You can easily TiVo it or watch it another time after finals are over. The best place to go without distractions is a local coffee shop or the top floors of Geisel.
3) Gather supplies beforehand.
This tip relates back to tip number two. It’s important to gather all supplies that you will be needing to study with beforehand. If you have to get up every five minutes to go get a pen and notecards, it is going to be a huge distraction to you actually getting any work done. Before you start studying, think about what you will need so that when the time comes you will have it on hand rather than going on a mission for more paper.
4) Recruit your friends.
Use your friends as resources. A lot of times you will have friends, or friends of friends that have taken your professor or class before. Asking a friend for help can be super beneficial because they have first-hand experience on what the teacher is expecting. They may also have previous notes and tests that you could borrow. Just make sure to ask a friend at least a few days in advance before finals week begins because they have their own finals to study for!
5) Go to office hours.
A lot of people are scared or just too lazy to go to office hours, but the fact is that there are many people taking the class that you are in and chances are that many people have the same question as you. Going into office hours, you will see how many people need extra help with the course. It will be reassuring to see other people in there and someone will most likely have the same question as you. Also, when studying alone it is sometimes easy to just give up, but because your TA will not give up on you and make sure you understand the material before you leave, it sort of forces you to learn! The hardest part about office hours is really just getting yourself there. Overcome that and you are halfway there!
6) Remember to RELAX!
Something to keep in mind during finals week is that it is just as important to take care of yourself as it is to study. Many people forget about the simple things such as eating or personal hygiene. These things do not become less important just because of finals week! Take a half hour to make yourself your favorite meal, take a bath, or listen to some music. In the long run, taking little breaks will actually help you out more. If you over-cram, eventually you are going to hit a mental wall and not want to study anymore. So remember to give yourself a break and relax!