Surprise! Okay, not really. Because of the fact that I missed a bunch of posts last week, here’s an extra post! Hooray!
In my last finals week post, I addressed what you can do (outside of studying) to help you get through your finals relatively unscathed. But what about when you are studying? What then? Well read on:
How to Survive Finals Week: Part 2
Get some sleep. This is one of the most important things I can say, so it comes first. You can study hard into the night, but if you are running to that test on three hours of sleep, it might feel like you haven’t studied at all. One thing I’ve come to realize is that an extra half hour of sleep means more to my success than an extra half hour of studying – especially if my eyes are drooping and I can hardly pay attention to the words on the page. If you feel like your productivity has taken a nosedive, go to bed instead.
Plan, plan, plan! It might seem overwhelming when you have four or five finals – and this might not even include final papers – in the same week. The most effective thing to do is to make a plan of attack! Schedule your time effectively, and space out your study time – that way you aren’t forced to cram last-minute as you freak about all the vocabulary and equations you have to memorize. Start early and plan accordingly depending on when your exams are scheduled as well as how much prep time you think you’ll need.
Find a Productive Space. This usually means eliminating distractions in your study area. For me personally, it can be very difficult to study in my dorm room – it tends to get cluttered in high-stress times, plus it is full of distractions like my television and laptop. If this sounds like you, relocate to the nearest library, lounge, coffee shop, etc. and get your study on in peace. Sometimes these places can get really crowded during peak study time (aka Finals Week), so come early and stake your claim on some prime studying real estate before everyone else does.
Study in a Group. Studying in a group can be quite productive – if you let it. When you’re studying with classmates, it gives you the chance to run questions by your peers that they could help you with – saves you the time of going to office hours. It also gives you the opportunity to hash out the concepts out loud, which is a really basic, effective way to test your own comprehension of the material.
Re-do your notes. This might seem crazy, but bear with me! This works well when your professor hands you a list of “terms to know” for your exam. If not, it shouldn’t be hard to make your own, depending on the material. One of the most effective study tactics I use is taking these lists and defining the terms in my own words, without the help of my notes. While something can make sense in the pages of your textbook, asking yourself to recall it without aid is a completely different story. It will quickly let you know what you do – and do not – have a grasp on. When you’re done, check your answers and put a star next to the terms you were unable to explain accurately. Then, give yourself a refresher.
Read over your work in the morning! This relates to papers. I cannot stress this enough. Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re plugging away at a paper until finally, the light bulb above your head illuminates? Suddenly, you’re typing ferociously, your late-night epiphany giving you the motivation to finish. While it certainly feels awesome, often times these four a.m. caffeine-fueled “epiphanies” aren’t as genius when your professor is trying to make sense of your words. Set aside some time to reread your work – out loud, so you can properly hear how it sounds – and make changes if necessary. If you can, schedule time with a peer editor; their job is to spot the nagging errors people tend to miss in their own work.
STUDY! Of course. None of these will work if you don’t actually sit down and get your work done. Know thyself, and whatever makes you most productive and efficient, do it! Dress the proper way. (I can’t work unless I’m wearing a proper pair of pants, for example. Weird, but true.) Play the right music. Pick the right study spot. And work! Don’t put it off until the last-minute, because you might spend some of that precious time agonizing about what little time you have left.
Good luck on finals, everybody!
Do you have any study tactics to add? Let me know in the comments.