Friday, December 7, 2012

College: How to Survive Finals

It's that time of the semester again: finals. The time when the library is always packed and free time is in extremely short supply. Here are some tips on how to make the stressful time a little easier.

Start studying early 
Don't wait until the day before the test to read the chapters for the first time. Instead, start early. Make flashcards a week in advance and study them every night up to the test. The same thing works for notes. Every night before you go to bed, read over your notes. Studying often implants the information more deeply into your brain.  

Study the way you do best
Some people learn best by reading the information multiple times and others by listening to the information. Review notes, make flash cards, complete study guides, listen to lectures, review Powerpoints, read chapters again, have a study session with a friend in the class, and anything else that might help. Do whatever works best for you.

Plan your studying
Make a list of everything that you need to do before your finals and ration it out. Plan what classes you're going to study for, how, and when. Different classes require different study techniques. Of my four finals, one of them has a study guide; one of them requires me to make flash cards for theories, dates, and laws; and one of them I need to review all my notes. When you study will also depend on which finals you have when. I have two finals on Monday, so I'll have to study for both of them over the weekend. My last final isn't until Wednesday, so I can take all day Tuesday to study hard for that one.

Find the ideal place to study
There are a lot of different places to study and they all have their pros and cons. Make sure to find the best one for you. I like to study in our designated study room during the normal school year, but during finals week I actually prefer to study in the dining hall. There's total silence in the dorms during finals week and I like a bit of noise when I study. I could listen to music, but that doesn't work depending on what I'm studying. Whether it's the library, the dining hall, or your own dorm, make sure it's somewhere your mind will be on studying.

Set aside a little time to de-stress
Even though your number one priority should be studying finals, don't forget to set aside a little time to relax and let your brain unwind. Take short breaks during long study sessions and give yourself an hour or two every night to just chill. Last year during finals week I managed to make it through two books -- both old favorites -- because I would read when I needed to de-stress.

It's okay to say no to social events
Don't be afraid to say no to things if you really need to study. Even the weekend before finals week has things happening. Know your limits and find the right balance between relaxing and studying.

Check and double-check exam locations and times
Finals are oftentimes during different times and in different classrooms than normal classes. Make sure to check that you've got the right time and location. There's nothing worse than missing your final or ending up at the wrong room.


Laura W. said...

Ugh. I am here right now. No, that's not true -- I've been here for the last month. :P More ugh. Finals. Studying. Projects. Portfolios. Coffee.

I'd add that you make sure to get enough sleep. You remember things better and are less stressed when you have adequate sleep.