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How I Study for Finals as a Woman in STEM

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWindsor chapter.

There really is no right or wrong way of studying, as long as it is effective and you actually understand what it is you are being taught. The grades you receive can help you to determine whether or not you need to improve or alter your studying habits. When it comes to studying for finals, your studying habits may change as you have limited time to prepare and a large amount of material to cover. Although I am only in my first year, I have spent a lot of time figuring out different studying techniques, and which ones to use for each class. I have compiled a short list of how I prepare for final exams, and hope it is beneficial to anyone who may be anxious about their upcoming finals this semester.

Make a list/chart of what needs to get done

The first thing I do before I start studying for finals is making a list of everything I need to do for each class. Until now, all my final exams have been cumulative and it can be difficult to decide what to prioritize and where to begin. I take a look at all my classes and write down everything I need to study for the exam in each class. This might include lectures, readings, videos, papers, labs, etc. Having everything right in front of me is beneficial as I can physically see what needs to get done, and I am less likely to forget to study something. This is also customizable, so whether you do it on paper, an iPad or computer, you will always have something to refer to when studying, and you can make sure you’re staying on top of all your classes at all times. 

Decide how much time you will dedicate to each subject

I think it’s safe to say that most people prefer certain classes over others, and time management is a must when you only have a few weeks to prepare for finals. Personally, I have one or two classes that require little to no studying as they come easy to me, but that is not the case for all my courses. I am not saying to spend all of your time focusing on your weakest subjects and neglecting the rest, but it is important to use your time wisely so that when it comes time for exams, you are neither underprepared or overprepared. For classes that require you to do a lot of calculations, you will need to spend time practicing different types of questions and making sure you know how to do them step by step. For heavy memorization classes, you will have to find time to study flashcards, definitions, examples and also make sure you understand the concepts that you have learned. Again, this is customizable as no student is the same. It really depends on your strong suit and how well you have been doing in all of your courses. 

Organize all the materials you will need to study

This might seem like a no-brainer, but gathering the materials you need to study with so that you don’t forget what needs to get done before the day of your exam is another tool to use. If I am studying for a biology class, I get my textbook, lecture materials, and anything else that is required for the exam and make sure I cover all the necessary topics. Some professors may assign extra readings, podcasts or papers on top of the lecture material and I like having it all in front of me so I don’t waste time trying to find anything. This also helps me keep track of what I have and have not yet studied on my list, and it makes studying a lot more efficient. 

Start studying and minimize distractions 

This is the part where I stop procrastinating and actually start studying. I won’t get into exactly how I study or what has worked best for me, as what works for one person may not work for another. There are so many great resources out there such as Quizlet, Anki, Forest, Kahoot, Youtube, etc. You are bound to find something that will help you with your studies as you spend more time looking into them. Aside from resources, there are also a variety of study techniques you can try, and in my case, I use a bunch of different techniques depending on the type of class I am studying for. Some study techniques that have worked well for me include mind maps, active recall, flashcards, Pomodoro technique, spaced repetition, Feynman technique and practice questions. Once I found out how important active study strategies are, studying became less of a chore and I found myself being able to cover concepts in half the time I had been before. As a reminder, no two students are the same and if you feel that studying is not for you, it may just be that you have not yet found the procedure that works best for you.

Stay on Track

Staying on track and keeping your focus is vital to make sure you do not burnout right before finals begin. Studying 24/7 is not the key to acing your finals, and taking breaks and getting enough sleep is also important to staying on track and putting your best foot forward. Neglecting your mental and physical health while studying is not feasible and you will not perform well on your finals if you are not allowing yourself to have rest or spend time doing other things you enjoy. We are not meant to be robots and spend every hour of everyday studying, and most of the time the quality of your studying outweighs quantity. If you are studying correctly and staying on top of things, you will find time to socialize with friends, get outside and even have time to continue doing your favourite hobbies. Rewarding yourself for the progress you have made is a great way to stay on track, and avoid being overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. Furthermore, always prioritize your needs when studying as these exams are not as important as your health and wellbeing. Failure is just your first attempt at learning and do not be afraid to succeed as you are more capable than you know. Keep pushing and prove to yourself you can do anything you set your mind to. Good luck on your finals!

Julia Rubino

UWindsor '26

Julia is a Biomedical Sciences major at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. She is a writer for HerCampus UWindsor, and loves to be involved in different clubs around campus. When she is not studying, she enjoys reading, writing, listening to music or podcasts and going to the gym.