Finals week can seem like a recipe for stress and disaster, but with some new helpful ways to prepare, you can make it an easy path to success.
Everyone knows finals aren’t fun. Students dedicate months of hard work to end the semester with a week full of exams and papers due, but how can we make this dreadful week a bit easier?
Here are some top “Do’s and Don’ts” to end the semester on a positive note.
Study in parts
Jessica Sobieski, sophomore accounting major, said she typically studies the week before finals and “takes out one-hour slots throughout my day to review for my specific classes. I find it easier and less stressful than working myself up over finals, weeks before they happen.”
By breaking up your studying into pieces, you can give yourself and your brain a break. Studies show that waiting before studying more can produce better long-term memory known as the spacing effect. One reason this works is that it forces people to put effort into remembering what they are studying. For example, most people can recall a person’s name who they just met two minutes ago but don’t have a high chance of remembering it in a day or so.
Puja Neopaney, sophomore international business major, said that she starts to study days in advance because “cramming a day before the exam usually doesn’t work with me. I tend to fail my exams that way.”
Make a handwritten study guide
Neopaney said, “I rewrite (my) notes, not type, but handwrite them.” She said that handwritten notes help her remember the information in an easier way. By taking notes by hand, you are increasing the likelihood of remembering that material again. While using a pre-made study guide can be helpful, if you explain what you’re learning in your own words, it will make it easier to remember come test time. Sobieski said she also likes to color-code her hand-written notes to make it easier for her to “break down the information.”
Another good study trick is to create a practice quiz and either quiz yourself or ask a friend to quiz you. This way you don’t have to keep rereading the same information that you wrote down on a piece of paper. This trick helps you learn the information in a different way and can be used with index cards or an app like Quizlet. Another tip is to go over the toughest information right before you go to sleep the night before the test to make it easier to remember later on.
Piper Byrne, sophomore marketing major, said her favorite way to study is by creating color-coded sets of index cards for each different subject. She said, “One color is dedicated to the material I know most, one is for the material I am not 100 percent positive about and the last is for material that needs extra study.” Byrne also said she utilizes Quizlet whenever possible by creating her own “sets” because it helps to “read as you type” the information.
Don’t pull any all-nighters
According to StudentCaffe, the human body reacts negatively to the stress of pulling all-nighters. Lack of sleep also affects a person’s concentration, memory and reaction time while studying and while taking a test. All-nighters also “impair reasoning and memory for as long as four days,” according to a 2008 study by Pamela Thacher.
Byrne said that she always makes sure to get a good night’s sleep before exams because “I get to a point where I am so tired, my brain stops retaining information.”
Don’t study in your bed
Whether a library or a bedroom, spending all night in one place can be draining when it comes to studying. Especially when it comes to studying in bed, it becomes harder because we naturally associate our beds with sleeping and are less likely to be productive in it. A college student study showed that by alternating where you study, you can improve retaining information. Sobieski said she likes to study in the dorm lounges, especially now since many students choose to study in their rooms due to Covid-19, making the lounges a quiet place. She said, “I also studied a lot in founders; just anywhere where there is an open seat, it is always quiet there at night.”
Don’t study with distractions
Many students study while listening to music, watching a show or constantly texting a friend back and forth. This leads to them retaining less information. If you did want to listen to music while studying, try music without words. Studies show that while listening to music with words, your brain automatically tries to understand those words and makes you distracted from what you are reading and attempting to memorize. Also, the louder the music, the harder it will be to concentrate so try some low, wordless music next time you study.