Before the most wonderful time of the year comes the most stressful time of the year. As the end of the semester draws near, it is important to establish a game plan to conquer the last projects, papers and exams of 2014. Grab your textbooks and some coffee, and prepare to ace your exams! Here are some tips to help you survive the next few weeks:
Know when to start. Finals are only a couple of weeks away, but the time to make sure you are ready for your exams is now. Keep track of due dates and set realistic goals — starting immediately! Instead of stressing yourself out the night before the exam, review materials far enough in advance so that you can sleep the night before instead of cramming.
Know when to stop. On the other hand, we all get to the point where no matter how much we force ourselves to keep studying, we have ceased being productive. So when you have reached your limit, grant yourself a guilt-free study break. Go for a walk, take a snack break, watch a movie … remember to recharge your battery to ensure that you make the most out of each study session.
Outline! Highlight! Consider which methods help you learn the content best, and go all out. If you know that outlining the information in your professors’ slides is the only way you are sure to memorize, make time to do so starting now. If making flashcards is your favorite way of reviewing vocabulary, purchase index cards or make a Quizlet account this week so you do not run into complications the night before your test. At the very least, review and highlight your handwritten notes; handwriting trumps typing when it comes to remembering factual details and overarching concepts. Having efficient note-taking and study skills is the best way to prepare for exam week. Stop by Learning Services or request a tutor for quick tips on how to expedite your studying .
Get comfortable. Before beginning a study session, make sure you have everything in place to maximize productivity and minimize distractions. Eat well, wear comfortable clothing and have any supplies you may need around you to avoid having to get up and down a million times. Deprive yourself of the excuse to go to the Blue Bean by setting out water and coffee for yourself ahead of time. Silence your phone and turn your television off. Employ a browser extension like StayFocusd or StrictWorkflow if you have a bad habit of checking Facebook instead of doing research. If you know you do not study well in your room or can anticipate your roommate keeping the TV on full volume, head to one of the many quiet study areas we have around campus: the library, your department’s student lounge, your dorm’s lobby, the Bird Cage. We are lucky to have so many quiet places around campus that allow us to relax in relative isolation while getting work done.
Take advantage of resources. If you are not feeling very confident studying certain materials, recruit friends and classmates to study with you. Not only do they have the potential to act as great motivators and can stand by you even when studying gets tedious, but also hearing them explain certain concepts differently than your professors will offer you new perspectives that could improve your overall comprehension of the topics presented in class. Make sure to return the favor; ‘teaching’ your peers may help you retain information even better and confirms that you can confidently recall what you need to for the test.
Research, research, research! That paper is not going to write itself. Make sure you are adequately prepared to support a thesis or summarize a study by reading up on the subject matter as much as you can. Utilize the resources available online and at The High Library. The library can also provide you with texts we do not have on campus through the Interlibrary Loan system. Our generation is fortunate to have a world of information at our fingertips, so use that new iPhone 6 to look up subjects that you might need to learn a little bit more about. It is better to be overprepared than underprepared, and it’s nice to have an excuse to Google something other than “proper APA format” during a study session every now and then.
Talk to your professors. Who else is better at clarifying confusing concepts than the very people who teach them? Though the idea of approaching your professors outside of class might not sound like the most exciting way to spend your time, remember that Elizabethtown College is the type of school that fosters strong student-teacher relationships. Stop by your professors’ offices to ask questions — they will appreciate the break from grading, and you will most likely leave feeling more confident about what to expect when taking their exams and writing papers for them.
While just about everything during finals season gives us reason to panic, keeping a calm head is absolutely necessary in order to do well in school. Keep in mind that being proactive is the best way to get an A. Set yourself up for success this exam season! Best of luck to all of you.