Not to brag or anything, but I’ve successfully made it through 3 full years of finals. In part, this is probably because I do my best to sign up for classes that don’t have final exams, but my efforts aren’t always successful. Thus, I have sat for more than a few tests, meaning that I also have more than a few tricks up my sleeve for getting through them. Here are my tips for making this finals season as stress free as possible.
Make Realistic Goals
It’s great to have a certain score that you want to make on your an exam or a particular grade that you want in a class. In fact, I encourage this. What I don’t encourage is having expectations that make no sense. If you’ve made consistent C’s and D’s on your exams and are hoping to make a low B on your final exam, that’s manageable. If you’ve been scoring a solid 55% on everything in class and are now thinking that you’re going to pass your final with a 100%, think again. Rather than tackling a large goal that requires improvement in multiple domains (i.e. learning everything for the first time, because you’ve never even opened the textbook), choose one smaller area and focus in on that.
Plan Things Out
So you know what types of results you want in your end of semester grades. That’s great, but now you need a game plan. What are the things that you feel the most prepared for? What are the things that need the most improvement? Answer these questions by doing things like identifying what chapters for a class you need to read, seeing how far along you are in the essay writing process, or finding out if there’s stuff on a study guide that you kind of, but don’t really know the answer to. Tackle the items that need the most improvement or time first, then go back and work on the stuff that began on a better note. Some people like to organize this into a planner where they track out what they do and when they do it. I’m more of a fan or making a list in the order of most to least important. Either way, write it down and hold yourself accountable.
Teamwork Can be the Dreamwork
Group work can be product and fun. Group work can also be super dangerous. I remember many times I’ve studied with friends that ended either with really deep conversations about feelings or watching Jenny Slate’s most iconic interview. The best way to make sure that a group study stays a group study is to have goals. Do you want to compare notes to see what information you didn’t even know you didn’t know? Do you want to practice a skill together? Do you need someone to explain a concept to you or quiz you? Or do you just want companions? If it’s the last one, I recommend that everyone wears headphones and has designated group study breaks so that the whole affair doesn’t just turn into one endless study break.
Hop Under Those Covers
You know what happens when you stay up cramming instead of getting a full night’s rest? Your tongue is sad because you burnt it on 3 cups of scalding hot coffee in your efforts to stay awake. Your brain stops remembering to remember the information you’re reading. When you get to you’re exam, you’re tired and cranky, and your professor’s last memory of you is your poor attitude. You’re also not at full functioning capacity, and your memory retrieval is messed up so instead of writing your essay on the works of Dostoevsky, you attribute all of his books to Donatello. Your professor doesn’t know if this was an art reference or a TMNT reference, but she takes off points for it anyway. So do yourself a favor and get some sleep.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Sometimes there is legitimately no way that you’ll be able to get things done in time. Maybe you’re having a life crisis, had poor time management, or really have no clue what is happening in class. In these instances, seek help as early as possible. This might mean contacting your professor to see if they have any advice on what your next steps should be. This also might mean taking some time to talk to a parent, friend, or a counselor if your school provides them. Take advantage of the resources around you, because no one actually wants you to fail. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you take care of you. Grades are always second to that.
Best study tips?
Thanks for reading!
Until next time, have an awesome rest of your day and an amazing rest of your week!