Those of us on quarters have already survived the first finals week of the year. As a student of a school that’s still on quarters, I figured I could pass on some of my newly acquired finals week wisdom to those of you who have yet to take them.
Tip #1 College finals are NOT the same as high school finals.
In high school it was usually possible to get by with a minimum amount of studying. Finals were still important, but they didn’t have as great of an effect on your overall grade. Since finals in college are not the same as in high school, preparation for finals should also be different.
Tip #2 - Start early
Begin making yourself a study tool, like a study guide, flashcards, or practice problems a week or two in advance. If you’re anything like me, you are not in the mood to sit down and concentrate after spending time making a study guide. This way you can put it down after you make it and then look at it a little bit each day leading up to your test. By doing this you will also avoid last minute cramming.
Tip #3 – Write it down.
It’s common knowledge that writing down your notes helps you to remember better than just listening or reading them. According to the US Air Force Academy
, “People remember 90 percent of what they do, 75 percent of what they see and 20 percent of what they hear.” So learn your material actively, and you will remember it better.
Tip #4 – Give yourself a break.
Studying for long periods can be tiring and requires a lot of concentration. “Research suggests marathon study sessions (3 hrs. or more) are not as effective as light study sessions (1-2 hrs.) which are distributed at different times during the week” (US Air Force Academy
). Every couple hours give yourself a break to do something other than studying; watch a half hour of TV, take a nap, or blow off some steam outside. It’s a lot easier to refocus after a short break than to try and grind it out without a break.
Tip #5 – Remove all distractions.
Silence or turn off your cell phone, turn off the TV, and resist the temptation to get on Facebook, Twitter, etc. If Facebook/Twitter is a serious problem, you could have a trusted friend change your passwords so it’s not possible to get online. “Studies show that most students study more effectively in a quiet area in 1 hour than in a noisy area in 2 hours” (US Air Force Academy
). Make the most of the time you set aside to study.
I know my tips aren’t foolproof, but they helped me out during my first finals week in college. Feel free to comment below the article to add your own tips if you have any. Good luck to those of you who still have to take your finals!