“FINAL EXAMS.” Personally, when I hear those two words, I just want to scream and hide! Studying and preparing for exams may be intimidating, however, here are 5 tips to follow in order to successfully beat the system!
1. Study Notes!
As a student, I know I make many study notes throughout the semester and slowly over time they start to lack detail and organisation but that does not deem the notes useless. Before you start studying, rally up all of your notes you have made over the term, whether it be a physical paper document or an electronic document, bring them all together. Then make a “memory dump list”: write down all the concepts you remember, all the concepts you vaguely remember, and all of the concepts you absolutely do not remember. Tackle your time towards all of your work accordingly. Try using the Pomodoro method. Try to collaborate and share notes with your peers and form study groups. Talking out loud and studying together has been proven to help retain information better and longer.
2. Time Management!
Time management is a vital component to preparing well and being stress-free for multiple final exams. Map out a plan of what, when, and how much you need to get done. I recommend backwards planning to ensure you miss nothing and can fit in time for everything you need to focus on before your final exam. Be sure to schedule breaks, reminders on your phone to stay hydrated, and for those easily distracted, pre-set timed reminders to get you back on track and focus.
3. Attendance and Office Hours!
It is important to take advantage of all of the resources available to you. Using your resources will help you further understand your course material. Keeping good attendance for your lectures is key. If you have noticed that you have been slacking in attending your lectures, shake off your laziness and start attending them again. Strictly attending all of your lectures can boost your confidence on course materials and motivate you to start studying earlier. Your brain is a curious organ and thrives off of learning and thinking. Surround yourself with academic influences. Doing so can steer your mind towards a positive outlook on learning and studying.
If you’ve slept in and missed a class or attended class and do not understand a course concept, there is no shame in that. Life happens and it can become difficult. However, it is important to recover from these “setbacks”. Request to meet with your professor to address your concerns and go over missed or misunderstood concepts. Take initiative and use all of your time wisely before your final exams.
4. Eat Well and Sleep Well!
The body needs energy to do, essentially anything and everything, efficiently and effectively. We all know the best source of energy for your body is food and sleep. Be sure to “recharge your battery”. Take breaks but be cautious to make sure they are no longer than 15 minutes. Be strict with yourself and ensure you are eating three meals a day while also not forgetting to constantly hydrate. In addition, know when exams are approaching, it can be difficult to get a full 8 hours of sleep. Regardless of how tight your schedule may seem, be sure to implement time slots for rest and sleep. Taking such breaks can help you process and retain all of the information you have been studying. Significant emphasis on continuously improving your time management skills is important because it allows you to make time to continue with your (hopefully already existing) healthy habits.
5. Value Recognition and Goal Setting!
When studying for finals, many students feel stressed and unmotivated. At this point in the term, our brains are tired out and just need nothing more than 20 hours of sleep and a nice home cooked meal. Sadly, it is not time for relaxation just yet and, in fact, it is actually time for the final home stretch of the term.
The best way to stay motivated during this stressful time period is to recognize why you are studying right now and what your values are (education, family, good health, etc.). Understand why you are prioritizing your time towards your education. Simply, consciously recognizing that what you are doing right now leads to a more fruitful outcome in the future will allow you to see a clearer path to the finish line.
Set goals for yourself. The finish line will feel much closer when you can see it. Goals can be small or big. For example, finish studying the next chapter before you go to sleep or ending the term with a (x number) GPA after the final exam. Regardless of the goal set, remember to stay focused and determined. Remember the finish line is closer than you think!