Finals week can be a frustrating and exhausting experience if one is not properly prepared. Some students rely on caffeine rushes and all-nighters to get them through exams, but the benefits of learning how to prepare for finals far outweigh the stresses of staying up all night to cram.
Here are a few tips for preparing for finals:
Check the exam schedule: Know when your exam is by looking at the online schedule, and double-checking with your professors and classmates.
Don’t Procrastinate: Waiting to study until the night before an exam can be disastrous. Procrastinating causes unnecessary stress and sets one up for failure. Instead, plan ahead and study a little bit each day. Look at your exam schedule and begin studying for your first, or hardest, final now.
Find the Right Place to Study: Studying for finals takes concentration. Everyone has their preferred study spots – pick somewhere that is conducive for concentrating and learning. Make sure it is quiet, comfortable, and distraction-free (no cell phones, Facebook, etc).
Study with a Partner or Group: Find a classmate or friend to study with you. This can be especially helpful if you are both preparing for the same exam. Talking to someone else about the material can help you remember it. If you are a visual learner, a partner can help you make flashcards or diagrams. Make sure to pick study partners wisely, as it can be easy to get distracted by socializing.
Get Enough Sleep: Pulling an all-nighter is risky business. While most students think that studying all night will help them learn more for an exam, all-nighters can actually damage grades. Sleep deprivation makes it harder to concentrate on the exam, and cramming for a final can actually reduce the amount of information you remember. Being well-rested will help you be more relaxed and alert. Make time to sleep – you’ll thank yourself later.
Keep Everything In Perspective: Stressing out over an exam will drive you crazy and can damage your performance. Make time for yourself to relax and unwind. Take study-breaks when you get frustrated. Talk to a friend. Go for a run. Grab a snack. Study for a different class. Whatever you do, remember that this test isn’t the end of the world. Twenty years from now, you probably won’t even remember the reason you stressed out so much, or the grade you received.
On the day of the exam:
Eat Breakfast: It will be more difficult to concentrate if you’re hungry. Don’t eat anything that may upset your stomach, but your brain needs fuel to work!
Bring all the Essential Test Materials: Calculator, notes (if allowed), extra writing utensils, etc.
Arrive Early: Know the location and time of your exam. Arrive early to get enough time to settle down before the exam starts.
Be Awake for the Test: Get a good night’s sleep, shower, chew gum, drink water, or have a cup of coffee or tea.
Go to the Bathroom: Self-explanatory. This is another precaution to minimize distractions during the test.
Bring Any Necessities: Water bottle, tissues, cough drops, etc.
It’s Just a Test: Remember that you studied hard and have confidence in yourself!