Survivor: Finals Edition

Our top 10 study tips to help you survive dreaded finals week.

meet the parents 3You’re going out on a date tonight.  It’s with someone you really like.  You’ve been looking forward to this for several months.  But there’s a catch!  You have to meet your date’s parents first.  You really would just rather avoid this ordeal and get straight to enjoying the night with your companion, but it’s something that just must be done.  On top of this, you know that you should do it WELL if you want to feel good about it.  So you grin and bear it, put on as charming a face as you can and meet those suckers.  It’s never as bad as you played it out in your mind, and once you’re done, you feel like a million bucks.

This is exactly how finals are.  That date that you’ve been looking forward to is SUMMER.  And those intimidating parents that you have to meet are your finals!  Finals are a daunting obstacle to finishing the school year and beginning your treasured summer days, just as meeting your date’s parents was an obstacle to enjoying your night.  In both cases, students make way too much of a fuss than necessary.  I think I’ve told myself every finals week in college that I wouldn’t be able to get everything done and that I would fail a class.  I also remember doing everything I could in high school to prevent meeting my girlfriends’ parents.  These scenarios are much more intimidating in our minds than they are in reality.  The only way to get through these obstacles is to grin and bear it.  Once we’ve done that and taken care of business, we feel like kings.  Let’s take a look at some tips that can set you on the right track to nailing those finals and sitting upon that throne.

1. Map out your tasks.  You really need to know everything going on in your last couple weeks of school.  Writing these things down will ease your mind and reduce your stress as it will all be visibly available in one location.  Taking note of your duties outside of school can help paint a full picture of what you must prepare for in the upcoming weeks.  It also helps you…

procrastination2. Prioritize.  Now that you have everything down on paper, take a look at your list and determine how important it is to finish each item, and how urgently each item must be attended to.  The urgent and important tasks must obviously be placed high on your list and attended to rather quickly.  If extracurricular items such as working out, practicing guitar, or getting your hair cut can be put off, then this is one one time when procrastination might be acceptable.

3. Budget your time.  Now that you know what your priorities are for weeks leading up to finals, use a calendar to start planning out what you will focus on each day.  You will feel a huge sense of relief after doing this, because all you have to do from thereon out is just stick to your plan!  This will help limit procrastination, which is a feeling all of us are too familiar with when it comes to finals week.  When you start cleaning your room BECAUSE YOU WANT TO, you know that it’s finals week.  Adopt a work first, play later mentality to stay on task and avoid anxiety.

4. Know what you’re getting into.  Review all of your essays and finals with your instructors.  You want to make sure that you’re studying the right material for exams, and writing on topic for essays.  This ensures that you’ll get at least a decent grade and don’t waste your time.

5. Study right.  I’d love to give you specific details on how to do this, but everyone is wired differently.  Some people learn best by working in groups and quizzing each other, some love to listen to every lecture Podcast over again, others choose to review lecture notes until they know them forwards and backwards.  Stick to a style that you are comfortable with and works best for you.  Class review sessions are a great way to bring up any pending questions you have.

lockdown6. Lock yourself down.  Remove yourself from distractions.  If your neighbors are throwing a party and you can’t think straight over the constant “don’t you worry don’t you worry chiiiiild”, consider going to the library or a quiet place where you can get in the right mindset.  And stay there for a while.  Who said cramming isn’t effective?

7. Stay awake!  Pick your poison.  As long as it’s not actually poisonous.  There’s nothing worse than waking up with “DLKFHSJKL;ZKKKKKKKKKK” on your computer screen because you fell asleep on your keyboard.  Load up on coffee, Red Bull, tea, or whatever you need to stay strong throughout your study session.

8. Remove yourself.  Take a break from your work.  Humans can only maintain “sustained attention” for a span of about 20-40 minutes.  Trying to power through this and failing to get up from your seat for hours may be counterproductive.  Exercise is a great way to lighten your mood, get endorphins, gain energy, and get some fresh air.  But now that you’ve been up for a while…

9. Sleep.  You’ve been working hard, and your body needs time to recover.  There have been numerous studies that show the negative effects of sleep deprivation.  One study even revealed that getting less than six hours of sleep has the same hazardous side effects as being legally drunk.  No matter how hard you studied for your test, you won’t do well if you’re taking it buzzed.

10. Reward yourself.  Give yourself little incentives to look forward to on your study days.  Promise yourself an ice cream sandwich in an hour, and an episode of Modern Family in three hours.  When you’ve finally conquered all your finals, assess what worked and what didn’t so you can refine your studying technique.  And then go celebrate as you see fit (if you go to UCLA, that means undie running Wednesday at midnight).celebrateWe’ve got more study tips to help you survive finals right here on the eNotes blog. Check em out!

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