It’s time to batten down the hatches and prepare for exam week. The stress of final exams and papers can cause some heavy fatigue, but we shouldn’t let it get to us. The relief of summer is just around the corner. There is a way to survive finals and I’ve got suggestions how.
Start studying early. Try to get those facts and ideas circulating through your mind as soon as possible. Cramming everything in at the last moment will only cause fatigue and confusion. Take the time to study at your own pace, so you can learn and contextualize instead of just memorize.
Ask your professors and fellow classmates questions. Make sure that you get all of the details straight before you start planning ahead. Write down the exact date, time, and location for each of your exams. If possible, find out what kind of exam it’ll be and what material it will cover.
Scan through old exams. These will give you the best idea of what the final exam might resemble. Some professors tend to stick to a certain signature template for the sake of familiarity. Use these as indicators of how you should study. Circle or underline anything that might reappear in the final exam.
Make a schedule for the week. Mark down all of the exam times and paper due dates first. Next plan out when and how long you want to study. Then factor in the times you need to eat and sleep. Don’t forget to give yourself leeway for breaks and diversions.
Study comfortably. Whether alone or with a study group, you should always be relaxed and ready to study. Pick a place where you feel most accommodated. This could be in the privacy of your own room, the library, the student center, or even outside if the weather is right.
Create study sheets. Put together a word document with a bulleted list of everything you need to know. Make sure it’s concise and in your own words. Not only will this consolidate information, but also help you contextualize how everything fits together.
Get a normal amount of sleep. Pulling all-nighters tends to do more harm than good. They leave you feeling drowsy and unable to concentrate. Not only will sleep relieve stress and refresh your mind, it will also help improve your memory recall.
Eat well and exercise often. A bag of chips and a bottle of pop don’t count as a meal. A body cannot run on caffeine and sugar alone. That’s just a recipe for jitters. They’re effective as stimulants, but they lack the necessary nutrients of a full meal. Also, avoid lumping everything into three big meals, since those tend to make people sluggish afterward. Try to space it out into several lighter meals.
Take plenty of breaks. Do this for your own sanity. For every solid hour of studying, take about ten or fifteen minutes off. Then take longer breaks after you finish a subject. Staying focused on one thing for too long can make everything blend together. Parsing the information up into pieces makes it more digestible.
Have confidence. You have made it this far into the semester. Now is definitely not the time to collapse. Try to visualize taking the test and passing it with flying colors. Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel when it’s all over. Let the confidence build in your mind and bring that same attitude to your exams.