The idea of finals make many undergrads quiver with fear. Most spend their time cramming, making the best they can with hours of studying with junk food and energy drinks, but there are much more efficient ways to work towards acing even those seemingly impossible finals.
One of the biggest mistakes made throughout a semester is planning ahead. If there is a tough final coming up, be prepared by making a study schedule and sticking to it at least one to two weeks in advance. Planning ahead also means prioritizing—figure out the most difficult finals that will take the most time to study for, and plan to dedicate a lot of time to those. Reviewing bits of the material day-by-day ultimately works better than cramming as much as possible the night, or even several nights, before. By making a study schedule and maintaining it, students also leave themselves enough room to talk to their professors if something is confusing or unclear. It will also allow room for relaxation and review time for some of those easier finals, just in case.
Few students are willing to cut into their social lives by planning ahead, and their final grade suffers because of it. However, there are a few ways around this. One idea is to form a study group. Not only will other students have slightly different understandings of the material, but they would also be able to help out in case of confusion. Study groups can be a lot of fun and also very productive so long as the group can stay on topic.
Another option (that I always enjoy) is a homework party. Invite a bunch of friends over and have everyone bring a snack of some sort with their homework. Sitting around and bouncing ideas off one another while studying, even if they’re very different subjects, can be rewarding and enjoyable. Sometimes it can even help others stay on task. If everyone works hard for 45 minutes, it makes sense to take a 15 minute break as a reward and goof off for a bit to rejuvenate before diving back into the homework and studying sessions.
Use the Tools Given to You
This should be a no brainer. If the professor provides a study guide, use it. If there’s a study session, go. Office hours? Pop in and see what’s going on. These are all tools to help students. Remember: The faculty doesn’t want you to fail, they want to challenge you.
In addition to the professor’s tools, check out the Academic Resource Center (ACE). Although the final exam study schedule isn’t posted yet, it will be within the next week or so (probably). But they offer many resources, such as one on one study sessions, how-to-study classes, and the Writer’s Room offers constructive advice for papers.
Eat More than Pizza, Soda, and Slurpees
Eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables not only help keep a body physically in shape, but it also helps keep a well-toned brain. Eating and drinking a lot of sugar is not a good health decision, and won’t really help keep you awake in the wee hours of the morning, trying to store as much information about balancing chemical equations as possible. A much better idea is to chow down and fruits and veggies. Not only is it cheaper in the long run, but it can help boost concentration levels, and thus help ensure the material will be there even long after the final.
Staying hydrated is another very important tip. Water is always a great choice, but if that gets tiring, try green tea or some hot cocoa warmed with cinnamon, or even apple juice. These are all healthy alternatives to the soda, coffee and energy drink finals study session phenomena.
Working Out and Catching Z’s
Sleep and working out are two things many students put on hold for finals week. Sleep because they need the time to cram, and working out for similar reasons (though they’re also tired from not sleeping). Sleep helps the mind stay focused and alert , and an adequate amount of sleep will also help stave off stress. If possible, try to get a whole eight hours of sleep for the most beneficial results. However, if there is a need for a marathon study session the night before an exam, planning short naps for around twenty minutes every couple of hours will help refresh the mind to keep it going longer. Ultimately, try to remember that cat naps are good.
Working out does almost the same thing, but most importantly it will help to relieve some of that pent up stress that many students get going in to finals week. It’s also a nice break from the books that can allow for socializing and goofing off. Like always, the SAC at IUSB offers several different classes if trying something new sounds nice, but if not there are plenty of other options such as the track, basketball, and stationary bikes.
Finals can be a scary time, but there are plenty of resources out there for students in order to help boost their grades and succeed in the last great adventure of the semester, so long as they are prepared and focused.