7 Study Tips For Surviving Finals Week

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Not many components of university life are as fretted, worrisome, and — as wild as it can be to believe — decisive as final exams. Final exams present an essential benchmark of everything you’ve learned throughout the semester. But while finals can often produce a significant volume of anxiety, even amongst generally relaxed and confident students, exams don’t need to consume your entire life or create restless nights for the last couple weeks of the semester. 

With the proper strategy, your tests can shift from a considerable weight on your shoulders to determining if you’ve accomplished the results highlighted in the course syllabus. The key to having less stress and anxiety during finals week is reducing unproductive habits and not making yourself vulnerable to undesirable pressure.

Any student who wants to succeed on exams this semester needs to continue reading to execute these final exam tips. When it comes to ensuring the most excellent grades and the least possible pressure, here are seven study tips to help make your final exams more manageable.

Avoid the Urge to Procrastinate

Without a doubt, the first tip has to be about the urge to procrastinate about studying. Procrastination is a perfectly natural inclination that seemingly illustrates the universal college experience. Some students fare better than others, with some (often upperclassmen) bragging about all-nighters and others falling into "panic mode." The harsh reality is that when students procrastinate, worse scores ensue.

Planning for final exams needs to start at the beginning of the semester. The curriculum at the beginning of the semester is just as important as the information in the middle and end of the course. Still, it’s also the most likely to be forgotten by the time finals arrive, meaning there's an additional need for increased focus in those first couple of weeks. Putting in the effort at the beginning of the semester means less stress as finals draw near. As a student, a good rule of thumb is to plan on reviewing the entire extent of material, possibly breaking up studying by chapters in the textbook or committing a study session to each week of the course.

Almost every student has genuine intentions when the semester starts, but of course, life happens and other things get in the way. When the source of the procrastination is understood, it’s easier to avoid it from the beginning and set a course for success.

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Don't Be an Insomniac, Get Some Sleep!

While there are many, many study tips for finals and doing well in school overall, it might not seem like sleep makes a significant difference. The truth is, all the studying and prep work is much less effective if it’s not supplemented by lots of rest. Numerous studies conducted by sleep experts have researched the effects of sleep on the brain, particularly memory. The research reveals that sleep enhances the mind's capacity to concentrate and performs an active role in fortifying memories, making it simpler to reclaim knowledge. All sleep is good sleep; however, slow-wave non-REM sleep, in particular, is vital when it comes to recollecting facts.

This point gains even more strength when we recount the previous point about procrastination. The demand for rest emphasizes the significance of dodging procrastination. If someone waits until the last possible moment to start cramming, they might stress out and prefer to discard rest in favor of studying. The earlier you get started studying, the less chance you’ll have to survive all-nighters later on. The connection between a lack of sleep and studying becomes a vicious cycle: less sleep  causes trouble remembering material, leading to anxiety and more trouble sleeping, and so on.

If you’re currently striving to get quality shut-eye, you’re definitely not alone. School doesn’t have to result in minimum sleep. There are plenty of easy steps you can take to increase sleep health, such as eliminating TVs, phones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic gadgets from the bedroom; taking on a consistent schedule as soon as possible; and not consuming caffeine in the later hours of the day.

Find a Space Conducive to Studying

Is it better to study in a workspace beneficial to studying, or in a space full of distractions? What about merely hanging out with a computer, textbook, and notes wherever you can locate a cozy spot?

Is it better to study in a workspace beneficial to studying, or in a space full of distractions? What about merely hanging out with a computer, textbook, and notes wherever you can locate a cozy spot?

Here’s the thing: the study environment is vital. Trying to study in a room full of distractions ends up being just that: distracting. It also might sound like a good idea to have the TV on for "background noise," but rarely does that end well.

If feasible, set up a particular area exclusively used for coursework and studying. The study space should accommodate a desk, a comfortable seat, proper light, and any supplies you may need to facilitate a quality study session. Try to eliminate all distractions when in this study space and announce to your family members, roomies, or other fellow tenants that while studying in this space, there are to be no interruptions or other distractions.

Create a Playlist That Helps You Focus

Having the appropriate music can facilitate an enjoyable and highly effective study time. There are numerous studies that underline the worth of classical music, in particular, due to its wordless melodies. For instance, a study printed in Learning and Individual Differences talked about the effects of music while studying; the survey discovered that lectures including classical music in the background led to more favorable scores on quizzes and exams than comparable lectures lacking classical music.

So what can we take away from the results of the survey?

Music puts people in a better, more stable emotional environment that enables the mind to be far more responsive to knowledge than it would be in other circumstances. According to researchers at Duke University, it’s also believed that music facilitates the retention of information because it helps reduce anxiety.

Get Rid of Distracting Devices

In today's digitally-focused world, it can be incredibly tough to go more than a few minutes without looking at your phone.

There’s a high likelihood that anyone reading this article looked at their phone while reading this article. Sadly, the dependence on obtaining constant information from phones can produce real difficulties when it comes to sitting down to study. Studies show that even the presence of a phone nearby is adequate to stopping most people from studying efficiently — this means that even when using self-control and not scrolling over notifications can still result in a less-than-productive study session.

There’s a high likelihood that anyone reading this article looked at their phone while reading this article. Sadly, the dependence on obtaining constant information from phones can produce real difficulties when it comes to sitting down to study. Studies show that even the presence of a phone nearby is adequate to stopping most people from studying efficiently — this means that even when using self-control and not scrolling over notifications can still result in a less-than-productive study session.

Even though alarms and certain apps can appear necessary, their inherent distracting powers may undermine the purpose of productive study time in a dedicated workspace. For most beneficial results, consider turning the phone off for a minimum of one hour and leaving it at a safe distance away from the desk as possible. This practice is beneficial during Finals Week and is an excellent practice to utilize anytime homework is being done.

Don't Be Afraid to Experiment With a Mix of Study Methods

There’s no one-size-fits-all study method that serves perfectly for everybody. While some people retain information best from reading notes aloud, others retain information better with the help of highlighters or flashcards.

Get creative and try a variety of methods until you find a strategy that best meets your individual studying needs. However, don’t be shocked if a particular process doesn’t produce the same results for every class. A unique plan may prove to be more productive for one class compared to others, so don’t be too intimidated to change things around when a previous studying process seems to produce weak results.

Find what method works for finals, and don't assume that what worked for one person will work for everyone.

Write Out Practice Test Questions

This tactic can provide a mix of benefits. The first benefit is that it requires you to reduce the semester's worth of material into a few key takeaways. While the small details are essential, it’s also crucial to recognize the big picture.

Writing practice questions enables you to think like your professor. Practice questions will prove beneficial when it’s time for the actual final exam.

Lastly, creating tests for studying will help determine any gaps in understanding for a better sign of topics that require closer review.

Once finals are finished and the semester has come to a close, take the opportunity to assess your semester with complete honesty. Think about anything that could have been executed better and what you would like to do even better the following semester or in your next class. However, the critical thing here is not to beat yourself up, do this step with a sense of constructive criticism. Scrutinizing yourself relentlessly about times you messed up is not a fruitful activity – as long as you learn from previous mistakes, you are on the path to becoming a better student (and person) overall. Best of luck with your final exams!

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