I am entering the spring semester of my freshman year of college armed with a quiver full of higher-ed wisdom.
Having survived fall semester finals, and having learned some of the dos and don’ts of collegiate studying, I am confident in my ability to conquer second semester.
Here are four tips for performing your best on this semester’s finals:
1. Determine when and for how long you will study.
Because no one will tell you that you must study for a certain amount of time in order to receive a certain grade—unlike final projects, papers, and portfolios, which come with specific guidelines, parameters, and due dates—it is very easy to put off studying.
I spent days working on my fiction portfolio and freshman seminar paper, but did not begin studying for my economics test until 11 pm the night before. And I went to bed feeling unprepared.
This semester I will know to plan ahead. I will decide which topics most need my attention, guesstimate how long it will take me to satisfactorily review each topic, and determine which days I will spend studying for which test.
2. Don’t study where you sleep.
Don’t study on your bed—if you’re like me, don’t study anywhere in your room, because you will
end up on your bed. And when you’re on your bed, and it’s finals week, you will
end up napping.
Find spaces to study in which you’re comfortable enough to focus, but not so comfortable that you’ll easily fall asleep.
My favorite place to study is the library. Collegiate libraries generally have areas with differing noise levels—our main floor tends to be loud and busy, while our upper floors become progressively quieter. The library café offers easy access to caffeine. The basement (or certain wings) can be dingy but unpopulated – remember, that can be a good thing for studying.
Different people work better in different atmospheres, and most people find it easier to complete certain tasks in different atmospheres.
I, personally, can read in loud areas but need silence for writing—my roommate needs quiet to concentrate on reading but likes noisy areas for writing. (She says outside voices help her to transfer her ideas onto the page.)
Determine in which kind of atmosphere you can best complete each task and where you can find such an atmosphere to help you stay focused.
3. Balance studying and sleep schedules.
Everybody performs best on different sleep schedules. You know how many hours you need to do your best work. And if you don’t know, you need to find out.
I slept very little during finals week (about as little as every other student) and felt better, more energized and more enthusiastic about working than I usually do, and was happy with all of my final grades. I think that studying is more necessary than sleep—at least during finals week – but that’s me.
Plan your study schedule ahead of time so that you’re able to get as much studying in as you need and as much shut-eye as necessary. Not everyone is capable of pulling all-nighters and not everyone should. It’s best to avoid them at all costs and get sleep every night.
4. Study with friends.
Studying with friends can prevent you from feeling isolated during this week of intense business. It also presents opportunities for smoothie breaks or a de-stressing laugh.
Remember, finals week doesn’t have to be miserable—it can even be a good time for bonding, too.