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3 Reminders to Ace Your Finals

It’s here. Finals season is once again back, and regardless of how prepared you are, it’s time to get back on the grind. 

If this is your first finals season, it can feel especially intimidating. Maybe you’ve heard final horror stories from upperclassmen or recently realized that your understanding of a class was not as high as you’d like it to be, but remember that everything is possible with enough time and effort. 

3 Reminders to Consider Before Studying

  1. How much time do you have before finals week?

    Time is the first factor to consider. There is a huge difference between having two weeks before your finals and two days. Usually, you’ll want to have as much time as possible to study (that is reasonable because studying for finals two or three months in advance might not be the most sensible decision) to be able to space out your studying as well as balance studying between classes. With more time, you can space out your studying a lot more but if you only have a couple or a few days to prepare, you will likely be cramming as much information in your brain as possible. 

    Action Items:
    If you prefer planning, I recommend creating a study schedule where you write down what, when, and how long you’ll study for. This way, you can map and cross out everything on your list of things to study to ensure you’ll be able to cover all the topics. Even if you prefer a more spontaneous studying routine, knowing what you’ll specifically be focusing your energy and efforts on for the next hour will be helpful. This way, you can time your breaks accordingly to avoid burning yourself out.  

  2. What is your preferred studying scene and method?

    The next factor you want to consider is how you like to study. This can be broken down into two areas: location and method. You may like studying in your dorm room or apartment, the nearest library, or even at a cafe. No matter the place, having a good idea of whether you are able to listen to music or have background noise while you study is important, too. If you are uncertain of which location suits you best, that’s completely alright. Just try out different locations, and see which ones you like the most.

    For the method, maybe for Math, your preferred method of studying is through completing practice problems by yourself, emulating a real test, while for History, you’d rather quiz your knowledge through asking questions with a friend. Figuring out the most effective way to study depending on the subject is one of the hardest things, but once you have this down, it is a much smoother ride.

    One way to determine this is to try various studying methods and see which one works the best for you. When doing this, especially if you’re in a time crunch, you’ll also need to realistically estimate the time needed to study. Completing a full practice test will take longer than going through a few practice questions with a friend, for instance.

    Action Items:
    Determine the location for best studying practices as well as how you like to study by subject through trying out various locations and studying methods. 

  3. How well do you already know and understand the material that you’re about to be tested on?

    The final factor is the material you need to know. If you can pinpoint exactly what you do and do not know for an upcoming test, it is much easier to prioritize the topics you study first. If you remember most of the material you recently learned but have forgotten some of the earlier topics, then you can prioritize the material you have forgotten and lightly brush up on the more recent material. At the same time, if you only have a couple of days or so to study before you need to take an exam, you may want to focus on studying the material that you have the highest chance of remembering during the test, so likely the more recent material in the past few weeks. 

    Action Items: 
    Figure out the material you need to know for your finals and then categorize that into what you do and do not know. Prioritize your studying based on the time you have before your exam.  

 Good luck with finals everyone!