After a much-needed spring break, you may be dreading the remaining weeks of classes that you’ve come to know as the most stressful times of your college career. During these last challenging months of the semester, don’t let disorganization and that overwhelming feeling from crunch time get the best of you. This is your last chance to squeeze out as much as you can to improve your G.P.A. before the end of the school year. Finish strong with these tips on how to study for finals.
- Assess your workload: Start off on the right foot by taking a step back to see where you stand among your big heap of assignments. An article by Michael Sandler called “Surviving semester’s end: Expert advice for avoiding panic at the end of the semester” suggests that you put all exam dates and deadlines for papers and assignments in an excel table. If you have other responsibilities such as extracurricular activities or a job, make sure they’re on your radar, too. Excel tables help you to easily glance at what’s due and when.
- Ration your time: According to the article “Beat the clock: Learning to manage your time,” you should budget three hours of outside class work for every hour you spend in class, as a general rule. Along with reading, reviewing and doing homework, factor in extra time for major projects or papers, while giving your hardest classes top priority.
- Resist distractions: Health Psychologist Lynn Rossy suggests in “Ten tips to reduce end-of-semester stress,” to check email at limited times during the day and avoid other unnecessary distractions like Facebook and phones. If you can’t resist the temptations, disconnect your computer from the Internet and put your phone away in another room.
- Organize your work space: A typical college dorm room or apartment probably looks as disheveled as your hair from all the hair pulling during finals! An article called “Testing Times to Come; as Coast Students Prepare for End-of-Year Exams, Experts Offer Some Handy Study Tips” by Hannah Busch shares tips for time-management and staying focused, including the importance of an organized study area. “Where you study has a huge impact on how you study. Having a tidy desk means you’ll spend more time studying and less time looking for things. The area should be well-lit and quiet.” If this sounds like an impossible feat for your personal desk, high-tail it to the library!
- Stay healthy: Training your brain is like training for sports. Author Michael Sandler suggests that you take time to eat, sleep and exercise to maintain a healthy body and mind. Stay well-hydrated and snack on foods high in protein to keep you alert. Break out the shake weight if you must and exercise at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week to improve mental stamina and focus.
- Go easy on the caffeine: Caffeine is fine in moderation, but you can recharge your mind in other ways too. Psychologist Lynn Rossy offers helpful alternatives to downing energy drinks and pulling all-nighters. “Use stretching, walking, running or other exercise as a way of re-invigorating the body and mind. Stay away from sugary snacks that give you a quick high and then have you running on empty for the next few hours.” With too much caffeine in your system, you might end up staying awake all night beyond the time needed to study and won’t get enough rest to actually take the final the next morning.
- Remember what you learn: Eliminate the bad habit of cramming as much information into your head as possible then purging it after finals. A lot of time and money has been put into your education, so you should take the value along with you well after finals. In the article “Get the Most Out of Your Course,” Tara Kuther, Ph.D., recommends holding on to that course material. “A crucial course may become part of your basic skill set and something you refer back to often in your career. Other courses are useful in preparing for graduate admissions exams such as the Graduate Record Exam or licensure exams.” As finals week comes to a close, and all your exams and projects are finally handed in, don’t just throw away your papers and bolt for the door. Make sure you collect all your final papers and exams from your professors even if you turned them in on the last day. You never know when you’ll need to draw on them in the future.
Keep these tips in mind as you approach finals week and you’ll have a great jump start on wrapping up a successful semester. You’ve made it this far, you can go the distance! The education you’re striving toward is a life-long investment. Be sure to get the very most it by preparing, staying healthy and retaining the information you worked so hard to digest.
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