As the semester quickly comes to an end, there is one thing on every student’s mind – FINALS. It’s that special time of year when stress increases and sleep decreases. But it doesn’t have to. Knowing how to study can make all the difference.
Make a Plan & Prioritize
It is always important to have a plan. An architect wouldn’t begin building a house without blueprints, and you shouldn’t start studying without a finals game plan – set aside certain days and times for certain subjects – and prioritize study time for tougher subjects; make sure you have a nice, relaxing place to study; and find a study buddy. You can even use the calendar on your phone to set up alerts and reminders to help keep you on schedule. And when it comes time to actually study, it is important to know how to prioritize information.
Don’t try to just cram everything into your study session. Think about those key points that will DEFINITELY be on the test and focus on them first, followed by that information you think MIGHT be on the exam. That way, if you run out of time, you know you at least have the basics nailed.
Repetition is Important
Read it. Write it. Say it. As you initially read through your notes, pull out key points and re-write them onto a study guide. Then say them out loud. This simple repetition will help you recall important information during your exams.
Remember, it never hurts to ask:
- If you need clarification on a particular topic, just ask. Your professors and TA’s are there to help!
- Ask your professors if they have a study guide for the exam.
- Ask your professor if they can tell you the style of the exam – multiple choice, short answer, essay, etc.
- Ask your professors if they will share copies of previous finals so you can see what might be covered or how questions will be phrased.
Your professors want to see you succeed and are often more than happy to provide additional information when asked. They love to see their students take the initiative.
Take Breaks & Get Sleep
While it may seem like a good idea to pull an all-nighter, a good night’s sleep can work wonders the night before an exam. Based on a 2008 study by Pamela Thacher, Associate Professor of Psychology at St. Lawrence University, all-nighters impair reasoning and memory for as long as four days. This is why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends at least nine hours of sleep every night.
And even the occasional study break can really help relieve stress and put you back on track. Studying in 20-50 minute increments and giving yourself 5-10 minutes in between is more beneficial than cramming.