Winter break is right around the corner! We’ve almost made it through another semester, but unfortunately for most college students, we still have finals until we are F R E E for a few weeks of not having to worry about homework, tests, or deadlines. Regardless of if this is your first finals week in college or your last, it’s a stressful time for everyone, and we could all benefit from a few tips and tricks to survive the week. From study tips to a reminder about self-care, this list is your one-stop shop for owning finals week like the rockstar you are!
1. Put together a study guide
If your professor didn’t already provide you with a study guide, you can make one for yourself! (Hint: writing notes by hand is scientifically proven to help you remember the material better than typing on a computer does!) You can start by going back through your notes or textbook and highlighting any of the topics you think are important enough to make it on the test. After that, you should decide what kind of guide will help you study better. This might mean making a mock test and answer sheet, note cards, or any other way that has worked for you in the past!
2. Make sure you get enough sleep
It might be tempting for you to stay up all night to cram for your finals, but this won’t be as effective as you think it will be. For one, not getting enough sleep can affect your mood and make you cranky and irritable, but it will also make it harder for you to concentrate on the material you’re trying to study. Sleep also helps improve your memory through a process called memory consolidation (aka the process of making a short-term memory a long-term memory). There are a lot of studies about people performing better on tests if they slept right after learning the new material! It might be hard for you to shut off your brain amidst all the stress, so click here for a list of things you can do to help you fall asleep faster!
3. Go to your professor’s office hours
Who better to ask for help on your finals than the person actually making test? Professors are usually required to have office hours, and this is the perfect opportunity for you to ask them for help if you’re struggling with the material OR if you just want a hint about what they’re going to put on the test! Most of your professors want you to do well and will be willing to answer any questions you have about their class. Professors are one of the most valuable resources your college has to offer (especially if they’re teaching a class that you have to take to get your degree), and you never know what kind of wisdom they might be able to pass on to you! Make sure you check your syllabus to see if you have to make an appointment.
4. Change up your study space
You might have a favorite study spot on campus already, but cognitive scientists have found that changing up where you study can help you retain knowledge better. This might sound like a silly idea, but whatever works, right? If you need it to be quiet when you study for that final, try sitting in your room or the library, but if you need a little more noise, check out your student center, a local coffee shop, or any common area around campus!
5. Start studying early
Two words: Don’t! Procrastinate! Waiting until the last minute to start studying means cramming for your final. Cramming for you test means not getting enough sleep the night before your test. Not getting enough sleep before your test means you won’t be able to concentrate that well (refer back to number one). If you start studying early, you also have more time to familiarize yourself with the material which means you’ll feel more confident going in to take your test!
6. Put together a study group
If you have a hard time concentrating while you study, it might be a good idea to start a study group! Get your class friends together a day or two before the test and just start going through your notes. If you don’t understand a certain topic, it helps to have someone else explain it to you in a different way than your professor did. You can bounce ideas off of each other and share tips and tricks about remembering the material. Make sure you stay on task or else the whole study group was a bust.
7. Create a schedule and stick to it
Set up a study schedule ahead of time… and make sure you stick with it! Managing your time well will help take a lot of the stress out of final exam week. Start by writing down when all of your final exams are then pick the times and days you want to study for each subject. This way, you can also set aside time for important things like food and sleep or an episode or two of the tv show you’re binging at the moment (if you can practice just a little bit of self control).
8. Remember to take a break!!!
While it might be important to ace your finals, it’s equally as important to take a break and remember to practice self-care. Finals is a high-stress period of time, and it can really take a toll on your mental and emotional health. Not only that, it’s easier to get burnt out if you’re looking at the same materials over and over again. Whether your self-care is watching one of your favorite movie, grabbing lunch with a friend, or putting on a face mask and taking a bubble bath, do whatever you need to do to recharge!