6 Survival Tips for Finals

It’s December. The month of winter celebrations, gift giving and…final examinations.

I know—what a frightening thought!

But, there’s good news! We’ve all been there, whether it was for an exam or essay, cramming all the words and information into our brains and papers in the last few seconds before the deadline. So, to help you get a jump start on surviving finals, here are six nifty tips!

1. Start early!

It’s essential to start early when it comes to studying.

You’ll often hear people saying that you should begin studying about two to three weeks prior to your exam date. While it may be true that studying earlier is better, it’s also potentially not possible. With busy schedules, assessments, and wonderful procrastination skills, the number of hours allocated for studying dwindles.

However, starting as early as possible is better than nothing. What “early” means will vary from person to person, so find your studying sweet spot and begin to stuff all that knowledge into your brain!

2. Create a study schedule!

Plan out your study schedule and follow it. This will ensure you have enough time to finish studying by your exam date. Sounds simple enough, right?

Surprise! It is!

The hardest part is using your schedule and sticking to it. To remedy that, you can set rewards for studying a certain number of chapters or subjects. You could also have an accountability partner, such as a study buddy or study group, who will hold you to your schedule and vice versa.

Following a schedule will relieve your, “Will I finish studying before the exam?!” and, “Oh no I know nothing!” anxieties as you can check, right in your handy dandy schedule, how much you have studied and how much you have left.

3. Find a study buddy or study group!

Study buddies, or study groups, are also great ways to study. Friends, classmates or total strangers—together you can beat procrastination. No more memes or viral videos to clog up your time! With a buddy or group supporting you, you’ll soon be getting down to business, clearing up any misunderstood concepts and have others on a similar study schedule.

Make sure you study with people who you know won’t distract you from the task at hand. It’s very easy to open a tab to YouTube or scroll through Tumblr to gaze at gorgeous study notes instead of making your own!

The best part about having a study buddy or a study group is you get multiple opinions and perspectives. If someone doesn’t understand a concept, you can explain it to them. This not only helps them understand what’s going on, but solidifies your understanding as well.

After your exam, you’ll also have a buddy or group to celebrate with. Everyone’s a winner!

4. Take breaks!

While you might be tempted to plough through those twenty chapters for your finals immediately, try taking breaks between study periods. A suggested time length for studying is thirty minutes to an hour followed by a break of ten to thirty minutes. By cramming all the information in your head in one go, you might lose out on more than you gain!

This tip goes hand-in-hand with your study schedule: plan ahead! With your schedule, you can set the duration of each study session and the number of breaks between them. Don’t push more studying on yourself than you can handle.

After all, it’s quality over quantity!

5. Study YOUR way!

Everyone is different. What works for your friend may not work for you no matter how much effort you may put into studying their way. Find the study method that works best for you!

Some sample study methods include, but are not limited to: reading the textbook, writing your own notes, drawing graphs and tables, creating cue cards, or playing games with course content (by yourself or with friends).

Just as there are many types of people, there are many types of students who learn through different methods. With some, a quick read through the textbook is enough while others may prefer to visually outline everything to grasp a better understanding.

Just remember: do what works for YOU. As long as you understand the material, you’re all set—and understanding is the key to learning.

6. Stay healthy!

Don’t let finals take over your life! Fight the good fight and continue with your normal routines—sleep, eat, exercise and socialize—but of course, with an increased focus on studying. This will leave you refreshed and energized, ready to tackle your next study session head-on.

And it’s OKAY if you don’t study all the material you had planned to. Continue with your routine, get a good night’s sleep, and try again the next day!

Because, at the end of the day, your health is what matters most.

Good luck!

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