Finals week has crept up on us again – it’s time to dust off those textbooks and get down to business. Don’t be stressed, be prepared! Follow these important tips (and check here for even more!) to ensure that you make it through finals unscathed. From starting to study early, to giving yourself incentives, we cover it all. Keep reading…
- START STUDYING EARLY – The finals themselves really aren’t the worst part of finals week – it’s the fact that we procrastinate, and then have to stress and cram 4 months of knowledge into our confused little heads in a matter of a day or two. Approach your exams and projects the smart way by planning out your goals for each class by day. Switch up the subject that you’re working on throughout the day if you tend to get bored, or stick with one class if you prefer to get in (and stay in) the zone. Do whatever works for you, but be sure to leave yourself more than the 12 minute bus ride on the way to the final. While I would applaud you for your boldness…no. Just no.
- BE HEALTHY – Exam week isn’t the time to be eating poorly, skipping the gym, or getting sick. Try your best to be healthy – you’ll not only feel better but you’ll perform better too! Stock up on brain foods and snacks like fish (who’s up for some sushi?), blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, nuts, avocados, and pumpkin seeds. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and maintain your regular exercise routine. If you’re not much of a gym nut, go for a short walk around campus once a day. Aside from the endorphins from exercise, the fresh air and sunshine can also do wonders for your mental health.
- GET SOME SLEEP – Like many of you, I’m guilty of pulling my fair share of all-nighters. While this may seem like a brilliant idea at the time, it could really be hurting your performance on finals much more than helping. While you sleep, your brain actually absorbs all of that information that you’ve been burning into your retinas all day. You’ll be less likely to forget the process of photosynthesis, or how to solve a quadratic equation, or that you didn’t put on pants and you’re halfway to the bus stop. Moral of the story? Get some shut eye.
- USE INTERACTIVE STUDY METHODS – Instead of just reading page after page of notes, try organizing the information in a different way that makes it more memorable. I’ve always found that rewriting my notes in a structured way freshens up the data in my mind and I’m less likely to be unconsciously reading/retaining nothing. You could also try making flash cards for exams that require a lot of memorization (and less comprehension). If you find it more effective to study with others, join a study group. Your classmates may have a different take on the information that could help you to understand or remember your notes more easily. Make up a song or mnemonic device together. Then, reward yourselves with fudge. Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
- CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT – Do yourself a favor and don’t stick to one place for an entire day of studying. Research has shown that students retain more of what they study when moving around throughout the day. Spend a few hours in your room, a few at the library – maybe even a few outside if it’s nice – just be sure to switch it up. Pick places that are cool in temperature and have lots of natural light to maintain your concentration most effectively.
- TAKE BREAKS – To get the most out of your study time, take frequent breaks. While the “correct” number varies, taking at least 2 short breaks per hour (depending on your attention span) seems to work well for most. This may seem a little too frequent, but it has actually been proven to help keep the brain much more focused during the time you are studying, thereby improving your score on those pesky little finals.
- STAY AWAY FROM TECHNOLOGY – Yes, there will be certain times where you need to use your computer to study, but if you don’t – don’t take it with you! Distractions like Facebook, Instagram, and that really cool new game you downloaded with “that cute little puppy who does all those things and other stuff”, can lead to hours upon hours of wasted study time. Turn your phone off, or if you can’t be trusted, leave it behind along with your iPad, tablet, laptop, and any other assorted devices you have the “cute little puppy” app downloaded. Fear not, the digital world will most definitely not forget about you, and that cute little puppy will forever be cute.
- REWARD YOURSELF – Treat yourself to an ice cream cone or a dinner out with friends once you get through an exam or finish a final project. For one thing, it will boost your morale and reset your mind for the next final. And for another – it’s fun. We need fun to FUNction. Get it? Ha. Ha. But really, it’s important to have a silver lining in sight that makes you feel just a tad bit saner. You can also try setting sub-goals where you receive small rewards once you achieve them. For example, once you complete studying a full chapter, you get to turn on your phone and check Twitter for 5 minutes. The next time, Facebook for 5 minutes, and so on. If food is more of a motivator, try to replace sweets with those brain food snacks I talked about earlier – blueberries or some peanuts would make for a delicious reward at the end of study session.
That’s it! Use these tips to help you breeze through finals like it’s your job. Want some more advice? Check out more tips here.
What do you do to prepare for finals? Any tips we missed? Let us know!
Written by blogger, Sandy Gomez