Student Life

5 Ways to Succeed in Studying for Finals

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for finals week.

Student Contributor, Charles Schnell

April 23, 2021

5 Ways to Succeed in Studying for Finals
Ace your final exams with study breaks, study groups, and office hours.
The academic year is wrapping up, which means final exams have awoken from hibernation and are creeping around us in the darkness, preparing to strike! Fortunately we have a flashlight to catch them off-guard: studying. Preparing for finals week proves difficult for some students. Here are some tips to make your studying most effective:
  1. Intersperse Your Studying with Breaks.

    Numerous materials online will inform you that studying for multiple hours straight with no breaks is not effective. It is only effective in boring yourself to a state of apathy and ensuring that you do not retain any information. It is recommended to study for a set period of time, take a break for a set period time, and repeat this cycle throughout your session (this psychology lecture on YouTube recommends studying for 20-30 minutes and then taking 5 minute study breaks in between). This lecture also notes that after completing your study session, it is good to reward yourself with a treat that you will enjoy before going to bed.
  2. Put the Phone Away!

    Phones can be very distracting. Even if you set it to not make any noise, seeing it out of the corner of your eye can tempt you to stray from the hard concept you’re studying and take a “quick break” on your phone. Before you know it, you’ve wasted an hour on your phone! It is best to put it on the other side of the room, somewhere that will require you to physically get up and grab it to use it. This will allow you to focus more on studying.
  3. Use Physical, Handwritten Notes.

    This requires preparation before your sessions. Virtual notes will dry out your eyes the more you study, tire out your fingers, and also enable you to open a new window and start browsing the web if the temptation is irresistible. Not only will creating and studying handwritten, physical notes on paper with ink negate all of these effects, but handwritten notes will also help you remember concepts more than virtual, typed notes will.
  4. Form a Study Group.

    Studying alone has its benefits: You are generally likelier to stay on task and avoid losing yourself to unrelated conversations. However, a study group can be effective as well. The members of groups can hold each other accountable for staying on task and contributing to the discussion when you meet. You can divide and conquer when tackling multiple chapters and units simultaneously. It can distract you from yielding to the temptations of phones. (Plus, a study group can be a successful way to make new friends.)
  5. Go to Office Hours.

    If you have any questions whose answers you cannot find, go to your professor’s office hours or make a private appointment with them. They will be delighted to answer your questions and provide other ways of thinking about difficult concepts. They may even reveal which chapters are more relevant to the final and which are not as relevant.

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