College Cram: Study Tips to Help You During Finals Week

For many colleges across the nation, this week marks the start of the last week of classes for the Spring 2013 semester.  That means putting the final touches on your projects, presentations, and papers.  But it also means prepping for finals.  Here’s to staying focused and finishing the year strong!

Start prepping early.  As soon as you know the exam date (AKA now!), begin reviewing notes, slideshows, and papers you’ve written to get a grasp on just how much information you’ll be taking in.  This way you won’t feel as slammed when making your study guide.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask your professors to clarify what kinds of questions and topics will be on the exam.  Some may disclose more information than others, but at least you’ll have an idea of what you need to review to prepare.

Outline what you don’t already know.  When going through your notes, highlight, underscore, or scribble information that seems unfamiliar or confusing.  By starting early, you have time to ask your professor for clarification before the exam, not after.  Take advantage of review days in class, if your professor sets aside any, and make a list of questions you have.  Chances are, others in the class are wondering the same things you are.  After handling the harder stuff, begin to review the information you feel more comfortable with.

Formulate a study guide.  Rework slideshows and previously taken notes into smaller, easier to remember chunks that you can work with.  Use symbols and abbreviations to make thoughts more clear and concise in your head.  Rewrite complete paragraphs into bulleted list for easier studying.  Read your notes aloud, create flashcards, develop acronyms, or sing songs to help you remember bits of information.  It seems silly, but it works.

Take a break.  If you’ve been studying for several hours and the actual intake of information to your brain has stopped, don’t push your mind even further.  Don’t be afraid to take a short, but necessary, break from your studies.  Have a snack, run an errand, or indulge in 30 minutes of mindless television.  But don’t forget your priorities or slack for so long that you lose your motivation for success.  This can be a dangerous trap to fall in to.

Go outside.  This is the time of year when the weather in New England becomes beautiful again.  Enjoy the birds, the grass, and the sun after a long winter of forced hibernation.  Study outside where you can breathe fresh air and maybe even catch a tan.  Vitamin D is good for the soul…and the mind!

Quiz yourself.  Once you feel comfortable about the information you’ve studied, quiz yourself (or have a friend quiz you) by asking questions based on your study guide.  You could even make yourself a brief fill-in-the-blank quiz to replicate what you may see on the exam.  Also, give yourself time to think.  Your brain may be a little frazzled from all the studying, so it’s OK if you don’t know the answers right away.  If you find you’re getting multiple things wrong, continue studying.  Return to the quiz when you feel more confident on the material.

Review beforehand.  Regardless of how much you have studied, it is important to review your study guide before the exam time so the information is fresh in your mind.  You’d be surprised by the little nuances you would have forgotten if you’d neglected to do so.  Admittedly, this may require waking up a little bit earlier or cutting that coffee break short, but it’s worth it.

Most importantly, remind yourself of all the hard work that you have put in to your studies up to this point.  You’re here for a reason; don’t let the amazing opportunity of a college education go to waste.  Good luck!

This post was originally published on Tumblr on April 27, 2013.

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