It’s that time of year again – finals week. If you’re anything like me, finals week typically involves drinking copious amounts of coffee, getting minimal hours of sleep, and cramming a semester’s worth of information into your brain the night before an exam.
This process worked for me until fall semester of last year, when I missed an exam. I had spent the previous night studying until 3 a.m. When my alarm went off at 7 a.m. the next day (well, technically the same day), I slept right through it and missed my biology final. Luckily, my grade in the class was solid enough that missing the final exam didn’t do serious damage. However, this experience caused me to reevaluate my finals week strategy before I did some serious harm to my GPA.
Here are the tips and tricks I use to be as successful as possible during finals week:
Before finals week begins I…
Declutter my life. I find it hard to focus on studying when my life is a mess, e.g., my room, car, school work, and the area I plan on studying. Research published in The Journal of Neuroscience shows that you will be less irritable, more productive, distracted less often, and able to process information better with an uncluttered and organized home and office. Use the week before finals to get organized. This way, your stress levels will be at a minimum and your study sessions will be more effective.
Talk to professors. I make sure to meet with each of my professors before finals week. In the meeting, I typically find out where I stand grade wise and clarify concepts I don’t fully grasp. Even if I’m confident in a particular class, I still like to meet with the professor to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
Create a list of high to low priorities for that upcoming week. After the meetings with my professor, I am able to get an idea of what grades I have in what classes. I then prioritize my study time for each exam by comparing how the final exam will impact my grade and how confident I am about the exam. Check out the handy worksheet I created to help fellow college students prioritize study time for each final exam.
Create a schedule that includes time away from studying. I create a schedule that includes the times I have finals, time to study and time for myself. It is important to check your final exam schedule because typically they are different from your regular class time. I refer back to my priority list and schedule time to study. It is also extremely important to schedule time for yourself. This time can be used to work out, eat with friends, meditate, etc. Taking a break from studying can increase your concentration and help you sustain energy longer. Over-studying can actually do more harm than good. The American Psychological Association states that decades of research have demonstrated that spacing out study sessions over a longer period of time improves long-term memory. In other words, if you have 12 hours to spend on a subject, it’s better to study for three hours each week for four weeks than to cram all 12 hours into week four. Just like most things in life, it is important to create a balance.
Disconnect from social media as much as possible. I’m not going to lie, social media is one of my biggest distractions. Checking Instagram or replying to a quick tweet consumes more time than you think. When you’re studying, put your phone on do not disturb and keep it away from you to eliminate the temptation to check it.
Don’t make the same mistake I did by taking the mentally and physically unhealthy route during finals week. Use my tips to help you succeed. Do you have another tip to add? Tweet it to us so we can share it with others!
Sources: U.S Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health ; Unclutter ; Princeton Neuroscience Institute ; American Psychological Association
As Blogger and budget aficionado, Tara K. helps students across the country enhance their knowledge about money management and everyday life. She is constantly looking for new ideas to transform into great advice for you. Pursuing a journalism major, Tara K. has a passion for the art of inquiry, which is conveyed through her writing.