Finals week can be the most stressful time for students in the United States, no matter what school year. Whether you’re a public high school, college or grad school student, we have your back with 20 solid study skills.
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Prepare for your exams with these good study tips, which can help you conquer your finals.
While many teachers provide a study guide, creating your own can help you understand the material better. Outlining the important information, you need to learn can be helpful, both in creation and to refer to during your studies.
- Create your own study guide.
Your teachers, professors, and TA’s are there to help! Ask them questions regarding the material and the exam so that you’re prepared when test time arrives.
For students in graduate programs, consider this your time to become a subject expert. Questions should always be in your grad school toolbox.
- Ask questions.
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In-person or virtually, review sessions offer vital information you want to know about. Including exam format, important topics, and key concepts you should be focusing your studies on.
- Attend the review session.
Know your final exam schedule. If you always start ahead of schedule, you’ll never be cramming the night before an exam. You’ll almost always perform better in doing so!
- Start early.
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It can be helpful to study in groups – sometimes. Evaluate whether or not studying with others will be beneficial to the subject as well at your learning process.
Consider using setting up a Zoom meeting, or a Facebook chat to embrace social distancing.
- Organize a socially distanced, group study session.
Study guides aren't always comprehensive – they’re just suggestions of the main concepts to learn. Use your study guide for its intended purpose: a guide. Be sure to fill in the blanks with related information.
- Study the stuff not on the study guide.
You won’t be able to memorize or comprehend all the material at once. Balance is key - ensure that you reward learning with break times to recharge and relax.
- Take breaks.
There’s a lot to be said about a good night’s sleep. Make sure you’re well-rested so that you can be fully focused during your exams.
- Stay well-rested.
Splitting the material into chunks you can actually achieve can be very beneficial. That way, you can keep track of what you’ve accomplished instead of looking at the big picture and getting overwhelmed.
- Create a study schedule - and follow it.
Some exams will be more difficult than others, some you may find easier to study for. Some may be worth more of your grade than others. Make sure to evaluate all of your exams to consider and determine all of the involved factors so you can study accordingly.
- Prioritize your study time.
An effective study technique is to practice the exam as it will be delivered. If it’s multiple-choice, you’ll need to know definitions and concepts. For essay exams, focus on your understanding of all the concepts presented, with examples in mind.
- Study for the style of exam.
If you think about and create actual exam questions, you will likely become more familiar with what you need to study and, in the meantime, familiarize yourself with the type of language that will be on the exam.
Draft potential exam questions and quiz yourself so that you can set expectations of what you need to focus on.
Think flash cards! Use index cards to create your own flash-card game of sorts. Ask your roommate or family member to help you out.
- Quiz yourself.
Often times, meeting with an instructor, can give you helpful hints for what to study and ways to prepare for the exam.
Consider sending him/her an email to see what the best way to connect is for them. Be prepared for a virtual meeting request this year.
- Meet with your professor or TA.
Evaluate and reorganize your notes into what’s important, outlining important concepts, formulas dates and definitions so they’re easy to understand.
- Reorganize your notes.
Make sure you stay focused and don’t burn yourself out. A great way to do so is to pace yourself. Learning a retention won't work well if you're studying for long amounts of time. In the long term, it's best to study in short periods. Take a break, reset, and study some more for final exam week.
- Pace yourself.
Learning by teaching is a method that really works! If you work with a study buddy and explain concepts to one another, you're re-learning the material all over again. It's a great way to reinforce what you've learned and help someone in the meantime! Just plan ahead to avoid pulling an all-nighter cram session.
- Teach classmates.
Switching up your subjects is a helpful way to learn everything for your exams while preventing burnout on one topic. Make sure to switch it up before your eyes glaze over! That way, you can keep studying for longer periods of time while maintaining your focus.
- Revolve your focus.
Create a system that allows you to color code material that's going to be on the exam by what's most important, less important, etc. This will help you focus on the most pertinent information and prioritize the material.
- Color code it.
If you're a visual learner, it can help to create mind maps or diagrams to visualize how the concepts you're learning relate to one another. This is especially beneficial when learning concepts that build upon the understanding of one another, like in science courses.
- Make it fun.
It's easier to focus if you adapt your final exam studying techniques. Consider quizzing yourself, creating acronyms or rewarding yourself for a job well done.
What did we miss? Share your favorite study tips for finals below!