Finals Studying Strategies
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
November 30, 2011
At this time of year, you’ll receive a plethora of advice on how to best budget your time during finals. And while it’s important to set yourself up on some kind of schedule, it’s equally important to have a studying strategy.
We’ve found several studying strategies and highlighted them below – find the one that works for you, and conquer those end-of-semester finals!
Concentration Score Sheet
The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) suggests making a game of studying. After all, we are talking strategy, right? Their Academic Center for Excellence suggests keeping a concentration score sheet on yourself. Each time you’re distracted, put a tally mark on a sheet of paper.
While your initial amount of tally marks may be overwhelming, you’ll notice that as you continue studying, the marks will steadily decrease. Recognizing your lack of focus will help you better reign it in.
The Center for Advanced Learning at Muskingum University in Ohio encourages students to go through their semester notes and color code each page with highlighters. For example, if you’re taking a history course on the Civil War, mark significant dates and names with a yellow highlighter, outcomes in green and cultural and societal implications in blue.
Muskingum’s Center for Advanced Learning also emphasizes restraint when color coding your notes. They say “the key to making highlighting effective is to be very selective in what is marked. Avoid ending up with pages of solid yellow or pink highlighting. Focus on the main ideas and the key words of definitions and explanations.”
Reciting your notes to yourself or to a friend will help you better retain the facts you’re trying to memorize. Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center instructs students to read through their notes, one section at a time and come up with as many hypothetical test questions as possible. Once you can answer each question without looking at your notes, you’re ready to move on.
Switch Up Your Subjects
When you train for a marathon, you don’t just spend every day running. Instead, you break up the week with cross training exercises every few days. Your brain needs the same kind of switch up when you’re cramming for finals, according to the Academic Center for Excellence at UIC.
Don’t spend an entire two-hour block reading your textbook for one subject. Break it up by reading for a half hour, applying concepts for 20 minutes and reciting facts until they’re memorized for 15. Or switch subjects entirely – spend a half hour on each subject you have finals for and repeat until you’re done for the day. You never know: the subject matter could overlap and provide one more way for you to remember those facts and figures on exam day.
Do you have any fool-proof study strategies? Share with us below! And good luck on your finals, Fastwebbers!