The library is suddenly bursting with people. Someone’s running up and down the hall begging to borrow a No. 2 pencil. The cafeteria’s already run out of coffee, and it’s only Monday morning. Finals are upon you, and you’re getting close to your breaking point. But you can make your life a little bit easier during this dreaded week with these five tips.
1. Make a schedule
And stick to it! Finals week can be hectic, so allotting time for studying will ensure you’re prepared. Create your schedule a week or two before exams and divide the amount of work for each test evenly. I also keep a checklist while studying, which helps with staying focused and completing all necessary assignments. You can use an agenda, an Excel spreadsheet, or a sheet of paper—whatever works for you. Regardless of where you write it out, having a schedule will be the key to avoiding procrastination. Additionally, it will reduce stress and the chances of having to pull an all-nighter.
2. Change your scenery
Be sure to switch up your study location. A change of scenery can give you more energy when you’re studying rather than staying in the same spot for long periods of time. Places you could go include the student lounge, somewhere quiet in your dorm, outside (on a nice day), or an empty classroom. This is also important because regular study locations such as the library may become busier around finals week. I’ve discovered that empty classrooms are great for studying since they’re generally accessible and have white boards, desks, and a computer. Local coffee shops or cafés can also be refreshing study locations.
3. Form a study group
Forming a study group will make it easier to study since you’re all going through the same thing. Getting together with other students in the same class is useful since they have the same professor and upcoming final as you. Study groups are great for motivation as well as quizzing each other on the material. Another productive way to utilize a study group is to create a collective study guide that divvies up the work. Essentially, if every group member appropriately completes a section of the study guide, the work is completed more effectively and efficiently. In one of my classes, each student was given a section of the study guide to complete via Google Drive. That way every member of the group had access to the collective review guide as well as the ability to add information when necessary.
4. Meet with your professors
This can also be beneficial to finals success. First, make an appointment since they will be busy meeting with a lot of other students. You can use this time to ask about anything you were uncertain about during class, go over homework, or review previous quizzes. Come prepared with questions, such as what the format of the final will be or if there are any essay questions. If they give you the essay question on your study guide, they may be able to proofread a rough draft if you prepare one. After my professor reviewed my rough draft last semester, he reminded me of a few points I failed to incorporate in my essay, and I was able to improve it before the real exam. Additionally, bring all needed study materials (textbooks, reading books, notes, PowerPoint slides) to your meeting in case any questions come up and you need to reference them.
On test day while you should be reviewing the material before class to refresh your memory, also stop to take a breath. Finals are stressful for everyone, and you should be keeping your anxiety low to help you get through it. Wear a watch so you won’t have to worry about the professor keeping track of time, and bring water and a couple extra writing utensils. If you have multiple finals in a row, you should also bring a snack to eat in between to keep your energy up and maybe listen to some relaxing music between tests.
Make sure you go to sleep early the night before, have a hearty breakfast, and try bolster your confident going into the exam. You can do this. You've been working hard all semester toward these exams, and now’s the time to show off everything you’ve been preparing for. Good luck!
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