Getting Through the Final Stretch

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, finals week. It’s the week that for most, can make or break their grade. It causes some people to go into a downward spiral because they are so overwhelmed by all of the pressure. Freshmen who didn’t do so well on their fall semester finals, want to do better on this second set, but do not exactly know how. There are also experienced students who have been taking finals for a while, but still don’t know how to study effectively or just have a straight problem with procrastinating, causing more stress. Well, fear no more, because I have some study strategies that will not only help you for finals week, but all year long. Here are 7 study tips for finals and beyond:

1. Make a study schedule

Finals come at a very busy time. In the midst of having to prepare for a final, you still may have final test, projects, and homework assignments due. It is important not to neglect these responsibilities. If you have tests coming up before finals, you need to study for those as well. That said, how can you prepare for finals as well as keep up with other class assignments? Make a study schedule! Making a schedule will allow you to see when you have time to study for finals and still keep up with your in-class assignments. However, when making a schedule, be realistic with yourself. Don’t plan to study 12 hours straight every weekend, when you know that’s too much for you. Overloading yourself can cause you to fall behind on your schedule which is not good. It is better to stay ahead then to fall behind. Plan for a little studying each day within a reasonable time span.

2. Create study guides

We’ve all had that one professor who refuses to give study guides. This can make finals or regular test even more stressful because it’s hard to figure out where to start. So, in these cases, you need to take control and make your own study guides. To avoid putting excess pressure on yourself, don’t start making study guides the week before finals, make them as your preparing for each individual chapter/unit test. This way, when finals week comes around, you’ll have all of the study guides you need to prepare.

3. Ask questions and attend office hours BEFORE Break

The weeks after break are when the spirit of finals week really starts to kick in. That said, it is important to attend as many office hours as you can, so you can get as much of your professors or TA’s time as possible. Go back through each unit and write down questions about topics you didn’t understand and go take them to office hours. That way, your professor can answer them, and you’ll have a better understanding of each chapter. Asking questions related to final exam itself and the material will help you better prepare when the time for the final comes. This will also allow you to resume or start studying as soon as break ends or get a head start during break.

4. Take breaks

Studying for hours on end is guaranteed to cause your brain to go on overload. At some point, your brain will stop retaining information. That is why it is important to put break time in your schedule. Balance your time between studying and taking breaks with moderation. For example, you can study for an hour, and then take at least a ten-minute break. Use this time to regroup, grab something to eat, or watch a quick show on Netflix. Reward yourself for your hard work with break times to just relax. You deserve it.

5. Get some sleep

A good night’s sleep is important the night before your exams. Sleep allows your brain to store the information that you studied, and keep you refreshed for the next day. Being well rested will help you stay focused during your exams. Don’t sacrifice sleep by pulling all-nighters. You are better off getting some sleep and then resuming a little more studying in the morning.

6. Attend review sessions

The last day of classes is typically a review session. Lots of students are tempted to skip these review sessions because they feel like they don’t need review. However, this is not true! Going to review sessions is a must if you want to do well on your finals. Review sessions are your last chance to get in last minute questions and gain insight on what specifically to study for the exam. For example, let’s say you’re in a review session for your biology class and you ask a question about photosynthesis. If your professor answers you by saying “don’t worry about that”, than you know that’s not something you need to spend your time studying. Always go to review sessions, they are extremely helpful.

7. Get rid of all distractions

While you’re studying, avoid using your phone or watching tv. If you want to listen to music, pick the type of songs that will help you focus. It is not a good idea to listen to your favorite songs or albums because they have the potential to break your focus. 

There are many more tips and tricks out there to help you conquer finals, but these are the ones I found most helpful for me and I hope they are helpful to you as well. Don’t only use these tips during finals week, use them all year around! Good luck with your future studying!

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