Hi, guys. The next two weeks are going to be absolutely crazy for me, as it will be for most college students. Finals week is starting. Yipee. (She says sarcastically)
About half my teachers decided to do their exams a week early, which is why my first final is today (I actually had to move this final up for another reason, but I have a final or exam every day this week and next week, plus every other assignment that is due.)
This is my third college finals “week” so far, and I went to a college-leveled high school, so this might as well be my eleventh. I’ve been through all this before and will again.
Note – These are all things that work for me. I try not to post any tips that I don’t follow myself.
I know this post will be helpful to most of you (or will at least help you procrastinate on actually studying for your exams), so here we go.
//Know The Schedule
I’ve had all my exams and due dates written in multiple places for the last month so that I know what I’m in for. Because I’ve been out of town for the last two weekends (Charleston, SC and Disney World), I had everything scheduled to a T.
Like, you guys wouldn’t have gotten any blog posts, otherwise.
Knowing the exam schedule will allow you to get organized and use your time wisely.
(The post I linked went live while I was in Orlando. Scheduling things early will save you a lot of stress.)
//Create A To-Do List
This is basically an easier version of a Finals Study Plan. I don’t have time to create a formal longterm study plan, so I’m just going to make to-do lists based on my calendar as I go along.
For example, in the notebook I’ve been using as my planner/bullet-journal, I’ve outlined the four days I’m on campus this week. One half is blank for the to-do list I’ll write for each day and the other half contains any important, exams, due dates, gym classes I want to take, blog posts I need to schedule etc. I even ripped out an empty page from last year’s Simplified Planner to schedule every hour of my day tomorrow.
I plan on doing one every day for the next two weeks. If I don’t, I’ll start losing my mind. Just quicky scheduling things will really help you prepare for finals. Just make a chronological to-do list. It’ll help immensely.
//Find Good Study Spots
Yup. Multiple spots.
Sitting in the same place is a recipe for losing motivation. At least it is for me. Studying in a different place energizes me after sitting in one spot reading multiple chapters of lecture slides for hurs. Even moving from my room to the dining room helps me work more productively.
At this point in the semester, you ought to have found a favorite study lounge or corner in the library. Make sure to study there, but don’t sit at the same table for two straight weeks studying. (Unless that works for you)
Also, study in an area with lots of natural light instead of a dark room lit by fluorescent lights. It’ll help your mental state.
//Stay Organized (But Don’t Use It To Procrastinate)
I used to be one of those people who spend a lot of time preparing to study. You know what I mean: setting up all the supplies, taking out all the notes, making outlines and study plans… you know the type.
It wasn’t excessive, but I did use getting organized as a way to procrastinate. For example, I would sometimes clean my room before starting homework because I couldn’t possibly do work in that mess.
This has definitely changed. I still spend time creating to-do lists and plans, but it takes less than 5-minutes, now. I also can do homework when my room is messy (almost exclusively when it’s messy. Hehe.)
Even so, getting organized saves me a lot of time and stress because I know what I have to do next. It’s just a good thing that I don’t use it to procrastinate anymore (that’s what this blog is for.)
//Know The Exam Format
Ask your professor how many multiple choice and free response questions there are. This will help you mentally prepare for the exam. By now, you should know what types of questions your professor asks based on previous tests, so you should be good on this front.
Also, find out whether or not it’s cumulative.
//Study From The Lecture Notes (Unless They Say Otherwise)
As long as you don’t have one of those professors who put pictures on the powerpoint slides and just talks, you should study from the lecture slides. Trust me when I say they have all the important information you need for the final. Lectures emphasize things your professor cares about.
//If Your Professor Gives You A Study Guide, Use It
That’s like winning the college lottery. Not many professors give out study guides, so when you are handed all the information for the final on a silver platter, don’t waste it or wait till the last minute to go through it. You’ll regret it later.
//Answer Practice Questions
If you get a study guide, it is likely that it’s full of questions for you to answer (your professor isn’t letting you off that easy.) Even if you don’t have a study guide, go through questions from past assignments quizzes, and tests (you’ll probably have to see your professor about those).
Mindlessly reading textbooks doesn’t help me study. I study much more efficiently when I answer questions.
//Rereading Your Notes Will Probably Help More Then Rereading The Textbook
If you take good notes in class, they’ll be a better study source than your textbook. Your professor taught you those specific facts for a reason. They also probably glossed over things that were emphasized in the textbook.
I know that you paid a lot of money for your textbook, but it probably won’t be your best study source. Even so, you should read the textbook efficiently. Here are some tips.
- Read the Introduction And The Conclusion
- Read the first and last paragraph of each section.
- Read the first sentence of each paragraph (most textbooks put the important information there)
- Read any bolded, italicized, and emphasized sentences or words.
- Read the chapter summary at the end of each chapter.
This will save you a boatload of time if you plan on studying from the textbook. It’ll give you all the information you need. I still say that you’re better off studying from your notes and lecture slides.
//Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute
In other words: Don’t be like me
There is a healthy amount of waiting that comes when you have so much to do and so little time, but don’t wait until the hour before to start studying. You won’t study as efficiently and you’ll regret it when it’s time for the test.
Start studying at least three days if not two weeks before the test. I know two weeks seems extreme, but it really does help. I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to do that this time based on a packed Thanksgiving Break (which you’ll hear about in my November Reflection/Recap), but I’ve been paying attention in class, so I should be fine.
But starting earlier would’ve been a lifesaver in terms of the busy weeks I have ahead.
//Get To Your Testing Area Early
Chances are that your final is at a different time and different classroom from your original class, so make sure you double check where and when you have to be.
Make sure you are there early so that you won’t need to rush and will have to time to settle into your desk and fill out your scantron. No one likes walking into a testing room while the professor is giving instructions. Let’s save ourselves some trouble and get to class early.
//Have A Pencil With You
It’s amazing how many people forget this elementary level task expected of students.
Also, bring a scantron if your professor doesn’t provide one. I’ve never run into that problem, but I know many professors require their students to bring their own.
//Do Some Last Minute Cramming
It sounds like I’m contradicting myself here, but I honestly think it’s beneficial for me to skim over my notes one last time before the test. If this helps me get even one extra question right, that’s a win.
“Ugh, Triasha. You mention this in like every post.”
I mention it because it’s important! If you have a choice between studying and getting enough sleep, choose the latter. Your brain will thank you. You’ll also do better on the final if you aren’t sleep deprived. I don’t care if you are one of those students who can “run on no sleep.” I don’t buy it. It’s not healthy and you’d be a lot better off getting some shut-eye.
//Take Regular Breaks
Don’t study for 10 straight hours without a break. Self-care is important. Take short breaks regularly so that you don’t burn out. This can be a short stretch once in a while or take a walk outside. Watching one YouTube video is fine so long as you don’t binge watch someone’s whole channel. I recommend that you abstain from Netflix for the entirety of finals week if you have no self-control.
I’ve made sure to schedule times to work out every day this week. This is partly because I didn’t work out much last month and didn’t eat well, but mostly because I know I’ll need to. There is certainly a connection between how stressed I feel and how much I work out because I feel the difference when I don’t. Exercising helps me so much and makes my days more productive. It also gives me a healthy break from studying and lets me move my body. It would be so easy to skip working out in order to study (or blog), but I’m prioritizing it because I need to take care of myself.
//Don’t Skip Meals
I know it’s easy to get into a groove and not want to stop working on something, but please don’t skip meals. I know taking a break sometimes takes away motivation, but you need to stay energized. The meal I tend to skip is breakfast (but even when I do skip, I at least have a smoothie). That’s not good. Even though I don’t usually have an appetite in the morning, I need to force myself to eat, otherwise, I’ll get hungry earlier in the day.
If you want to kill two birds with one stone, eat lunch with a friend. This’ll give you a socializing break and you won’t be using up precious time.
//Remember The Big Picture
If you don’t ace the final, it’s not the end of the world.
College is not the end all be all of your existence. It’s easy to value yourself through your GPA or future career, but you shouldn’t. There are so many other aspects of life that are just as important and you are better off than most of the world (You probably have internet connection and access to education if you’re reading this).
Don’t put too much weight on your exams at the expense of your mental health. Keep on living your life and be content with what you have. You can do that and study, right?
That’s it for today. I have so much to do in the next two weeks and not enough time, but you should still expect a blog post on Thursday. I’ll see you soon. Good luck on your Finals!
Did I leave anything out? How do you prepare for final exams? How ready are you for winter break?