Studying for Finals

Here are a few steps and tips to studying smart this year.

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Sophomores Isabella Pagano and Hermes Medina.

As we head into December, students are faced with a daunting task: studying for finals. Reviewing an entire semester of content is not easy, and many students still don’t know where to start. Here are a few steps and tips to studying smart this year.

Give yourself time

Giving yourself enough time to study is the very first step for being prepared for finals. The more time you have, the more time you have to process information, take it slow, and overall be a lot less stressed. When is a good time to start? Although it varies from student to student, you should give yourself at least one week to start. If a class is more content-heavy, such as history, closer to two weeks might be better.

Make a plan

Make a list of what you are going to do. For example, first, review your notes. Next, study a Quizlet. Finally, do practice problems. This is much more effective than heading in to study with no plan. This will help you study more effectively and avoid wasting time–study smarter, not harder.

Take breaks

There is a common misconception that studying for hours on end will make you the most prepared for an exam. However, when you are studying for long periods of time, taking breaks is essential for not burning out. Without them, you will find that you will quickly become unfocused and retaining information will become increasingly more difficult. To decreases the chances of burnout, use methods such as Pomodoro, where you study for 25 minutes and take a break for 5. During those breaks, get up and move around. 

Rewrite your notes or make a Quizlet–yourself

Rewriting your notes has been proven to be much more effective than simply re-reading your notes. You will retain the information much easier. Also, use colors–highlight important terms or key points. This can also be done by making a Quizlet. Putting your notes in question-and-answer form forces you to put it into understandable terms. This will make you go deep into your notes and break it up into simpler sections to be turned into questions.

If you aren’t understand something, put it to the side and look at it later

If you are just not understanding a concept, it will do no good for you to dwell on it and waste time. Put it to the side, and look at it later. If this still doesn’t work, go in and talk to your teachers. This is very helpful because they are experts in what they teach.

Watch videos online

Sometimes, even after going to a teacher, it can still be difficult to understand a concept. If this happens, I recommend going online and watching some videos that regard what you are struggling to understand. Usually hearing it from a different point can help it become more understandable.

Practice problems

No matter the class, practice problems are a great way to study. After all, this is what the test will be. You can usually ask your teacher for practice problems or go online to find some.

Have a discussion about it out loud with someone self–or yourself

Talking about something forces you to put it into somewhat comprehensible words. Talking through your notes, even if it just at yourself, is an easy way to help you pick up, understand, and retain information.  

Look at other people’s notes and Quizlets

As mentioned, getting the information from a different side can help you understand it more. Also, your classmates might have picked up something you may have forgotten about.

Preparing the night before

Getting sleep and eating properly is very important before an exam. It will not be good if you walk into the exam with four hours of sleep and an empty stomach. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep the night before and eat something the morning of a test. A final tip is to look over your notes right before you go to sleep and right after you wake up.

Don’t panic. Finals can be a very scaring thing to many students, but if you give yourself enough time, you will be okay. Just remember to take it one step at a time. To maintain motivation, just think of how wonderful it will be after you finish and are on break. You are almost there!