As a graduating senior, I am intimately familiar with finals week—the chaos that ensues, and the stress that plagues students at the end of each semester. So I’ve compiled a list of tips and techniques to (hopefully) see you safely to the other side of the semester’s end:
Prioritize. Some tests may be harder than others, some will be worth more of your grade, and some will be more difficult to study for. Make sure that you spend your time where it counts the most.
Create your own study guide. Even if your professor does provide one, it can be extremely helpful to outline the things that you think are import and make sure that you know the right answer. And some professors purposely ask a few questions on the test that weren’t on their study guide, so making your own can be especially important.
Study with a group. Sometimes having the accountability of other people in your class can help you focus on the most important aspects of the material, sometimes not. So, make sure you choose group members that want to actually study. And if you teach your group members, it will help you reinforce those concepts too.
Take breaks. Everyone’s brain gets overloaded sometimes—this is normal, but you don’t want it to get to that point. A good policy is to take a thirty-minute break every two hours or so. Take a walk, watch a video, or talk to a friend. Taking these breaks can also help your brain move your cram session into your long-term memory.
Rest up. I know it’s tempting to pull an all-nighter on Tuesday of finals week when you have two tests the next day, but don’t. While you may get in some extra study time, you’ll also forget most of it during the test because you’re sluggish and struggling to stay awake (and so is your brain). Trust me, I’ve been there.
Make it fun. Reward yourself with a sip of coffee or a piece of candy when you answer something right, or give yourself a quick study break after you tackle a difficult chapter. Studying can be a drag, but it doesn’t have to be.
Finals are a challenge, but that’s the point. College stretches us; it changes and grows us. And final exams are a big part of that. Prioritization, multitasking, organization, and more work together to help us both survive and thrive. You can do this!