Your Final Exam Prep Guide

You can manage your studying habits with these helpful test prep tips.

Francesca Kavalir

April 09, 2015

Your Final Exam Prep Guide Your Final Exam Prep Guide

It seems that wherever we go, we’re surrounded by scams. Water bottles cost $5.00 at concerts, while a grocery store 24-pack costs $4.50. Dieting ads claim that one can easily “Lose 20 pounds in 30 days!” — that is, if one just eats half of the serving sizes listed on the company’s “low-calorie” freezer meals.

Sadly, such scams have even infiltrated into our schooling systems through the ever-dreaded first semester finals. Teachers and professors build up these tests, or, depending on the grading system, midterms, but then claim that students just have to push through those exams with decent grades for everything to work out fine.

Until second semester comes around and you have to do it all again. . . with twice the amount of information. Consider yourself duped.

Never fear, even with the increased workload of second semester, you can still do just as well as or even better than you did the first time around— just as long as you can manage your studying habits with these tips.

Spread Out Your Schedule

Write out a schedule so that you study a bit of each subject every day; study upon study has shown that spreading out in this way is the most effective learning method.

Don’t be too ridiculous and plan to study calculus for five minutes every day; give yourself enough time to complete a decent amount of work for each class.

In addition to the daily allotments, dedicate a half hour to an hour or so of extra time to one subject each day. Don’t overestimate and overload yourself either though, as you’ll still have your typical outside commitments.

Of course, though it is never recommended, at least a bit of cramming is inevitable, so leave the few days preceding the tests as free as need be.

Know What to Know

All the effort put into studying is fruitless if the material chosen is incorrect or irrelevant. Ask your teacher far ahead of time what materials they have for you and recommend you focus on.

One of the best resources a teacher can give is a practice test. These tests offer insight to what the actual test will be like and help to access what you need to study most.

If your teacher does not have any practice exams prepared, refresh yourself on past questions by asking to look over older tests and quizzes.

Use Your Resources

Don’t be afraid to look on your own either: here’s an endless array of studying media.

Textbooks are best for big picture ideas. Past homework often includes a variety of relevant questions or information.

Class notes can be helpful too, but only if they’re neat. Take the time to ensure that you understand your own handiwork; it will be worthwhile in the long run.

If any of your teachers haven’t been quite up to par these past few months, take advice from former students and ask to borrow their notes or organize tutoring sessions.

Browsing credible sources on the Google or videos YouTube can help to find easily accessible and understandable information. Some good places to start are Khan Academy and Crash Course.

Enjoy It (No Really, It’s Possible)

Very rarely will you find a person that truly enjoys studying, for we often make it out to be a tortuous rather than educative process. However, it doesn’t always have to be so bad.

Make your first priority taking care of yourself. Pulling a few all-nighters might let you finish the work, but the loss of sleep eventually catches up to you, and often at the most inopportune times. No amount of coffee can rouse your body to full awareness after a month of little sleep.

Snacks can serve both as brain fuel and good breaks between subjects. Make healthy choices like peanut butter and celery, nuts and dried fruits, or berries and yogurt. Then indulge a bit with some dark chocolate once you’ve completed a certain subject.

Another way to evade torturous studying is to evade the solidarity of it by inviting friends to join. Bring all of your notes to a local library or coffee shop or plan to meet at someone’s house and order some pizza (again, “healthy” brain fuel is essential).

As much fun as group studying is, it can be difficult to stay on task, so don’t expect to complete as much work as you would on your own. Nevertheless, come prepared to stay as focused as you can by agreeing upon what you need to study and quiz each other on these areas through a few competitive games. Winner gets a higher test grade, and maybe even an extra slice of pepperoni!

Finals are undeniably stressful and frightening. However, you’ve made it this far, so don’t let one exam throw a year’s worth of hard work down the drain.

With the right preparation, and at least a somewhat merciful teacher, success is a near guarantee.

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