Even though final exams may seem far away, they will be here before you know it! The thought of starting to prepare now may seem dreadful, but you are sure to thank yourself later if you get ahead of the game.
By establishing a plan, giving special attention to problem areas, and creating study resources, you can get right on your way to a less stressful finals week.
1. Get organized
While getting organized may not be a task you associate with studying, doing so beforehand can make your actual study time more productive. Getting organized may include steps such as locating that textbook you misplaced, discarding irrelevant papers that clutter up your study space, and ensuring you have all the notes from every class thus far.
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One of the most important aspects of organization is creating a study schedule that suits your needs. Think about where, when, and with whom you will be studying. Evaluate your weekly schedule.
Realistically, how much time could you dedicate to preparing for final exams? Is your brain more receptive in the afternoon or in the evening? Do you prefer to study alone or with others?
Take all of these factors into account as you lay out your study schedule. Planning ahead is key to excelling on finals, so try to reserve a little time for studying each week leading up to them.
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Now is also the time to obtain whichever materials you would like to use to study for your final exams. Perhaps you will want loose-leaf paper, highlighters, sticky notes, or index cards.
If you secure these materials sooner rather than later, you will not have to worry about running to the store at the last minute – or even worse, the store being out of something you need.
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2. Clear up your doubts
As final exams approach, make an effort to master those concepts that have tripped you up in the past. Review graded homework assignments, essays, projects, tests, and quizzes.
Which topics were most problematic for you? Do you notice that you lost points on one question type in particular? Now is the time to assess which areas you need the most help with.
Use your textbook’s index to help you locate the topic and to refresh yourself on the subject matter. You can conduct online research to get additional explanations and support via slideshows, quizzes, and games.
If you still feel unsure about a lesson, talk to some of your peers; they may be interested in forming a study group with you.
Another option is to ask for an extra help session from your teacher. Teachers are willing to attend to students who earnestly seek help, so don’t be shy. They are there to support you.
3. Make flashcards
Whether you have to study for chemistry or English literature, flashcards are an excellent study tool. Making flashcards helps you break down course material into small, digestible blocks of information. In addition, the process of reading and recording course material onto the flashcards is a study technique in and of itself.
If you are studying for a math or science class, you can use one flashcard for each formula or theorem. On one side, write the formula or theorem itself; on the other side, write what each variable stands for.
If you are studying for a history class, you can dedicate one flashcard to a movement, war, historical figure, piece of legislation, etc. Try not to cram too much information onto one flashcard; this defeats the purpose of using flashcards rather than a notebook.
It is never too early to start preparing for finals. Early preparation does not have to be unpleasant, though. Attack it bit by bit: Tidy up the room you will study in, attend an extra help session, and think of what to include on your flashcards.
Most importantly, relax and stay positive!
Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized experiences to accelerate academic achievement.