The semester is finally coming to an end, but before we can reach the long awaited summer break, we need to go through the gauntlet of finals week.
While finals week is obviously stressful, it is this week, dead week, that is probably more stressful. From term papers to last-minute assignments and the prep work for finals week, it truly leaves students feeling like the walking dead on the Monday of finals week. So here are a few helpful tips to make it through the awfulness of dead week and be prepared for your finals.
Where do I start?
Make a schedule. Start off with what day your final is, then count backward four days. That is when you should start studying for that final. When you actually get to the point of studying, do it in 45 minutes intervals. It seems less intimidating than sitting for however long it will take to get through the study guide. After that 45 minutes, take a timed 15 minute break to stare into space or watch a Youtube video. After repeating this three times, a longer break is warranted, so take a 30-45 minute break where you watch an episode or eat something. Your brain is already going to want to take a break, so you might as well schedule it so you don’t burn out after three hours and end up getting nothing else done for the night.
What should I focus on for studying?
You know what your hardest class is. Whether it is Calculus 2 (I still have traumatic flashbacks) or Introduction to Geology or Organic Chemistry, you know where your problem areas lie. Those classes you personally struggle with is what you should be studying for right up until the final.
For problem solving classes like math or science, do the homework problems again. You know what you did wrong on them, so now do them again the right way. This will create a memory of how the actual problem should be solved. For more memorization based classes, make flash cards. From terms and definitions to chemical mechanisms, if you actually work to learn what’s on the back of the flashcards, it will stick in your brain.
Another tip, make the problems you’re practicing and learning as general as possible. It is unlikely that the professor is going to ask you the exact question from the textbook, so learn how to do the problem, not the answer to that specific problem. For that, it might mean you need to just make more notecards.
Where should I study?
There is a weird situation to be taking finals because a lot of the tried and true study places are closed and most people are stuck at home. So study where you are going to take your tests.I f you are in a familiar environment where you know where everything is and there isn’t anything around that could distract you, you will focus more on the work and on the final. You can also start to associate objects around with concepts. That weird stain on the wall is where you were looking when you suddenly realized how cellular transport across the membrane worked or that shirt on the chair reminded you of junk DNA and why it is there to begin with.
How do I start studying?
Having a plan on where to start and where to end can help. With your GPA at stake, it can feel like a lot of pressure to do well in every class but look at the schedule you made and think about what you need to work and start with that class. From there as you go along in your studying, you’ll feel more comfortable with a concept and after that 15 minute break, you can start on another subject that isn’t as hard but still requires a glance over your notes before you go back to that really hard class after another break. If that isn’t enough, use incentives like a snack during that 15 minute break or after that full three rotations watch the next episode you can’t wait for.
If you are still overwhelmed with everything you need to do and those won’t help, start somewhere. There are things that just buildup in our minds so much that it makes it so hard to start. So just find the easiest thing you can convince yourself to do like reading over the study guide or doing a problem you know how to do can help. Once you do one, you start getting the momentum to do the next one and the one after that.
Keeping all of these things in mind, should calm you down enough to start studying and that studying will help you make or keep the grade.