By Tarushi Sharma
Fellow students, it is that time of the year again: time to put away your phone (save the text for later!) and resist the urge to mindlessly scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and, perhaps, MySpace if you are still intrigued by that ancient history. It is time to brew that cup of coffee, sharpen those pencils, and dig out the notes that you (hopefully) studiously took throughout the semester. Now is the time where you begin to question the worth of those third-block lap sessions and begin to get those prickly palms at the thought of the “f” word. Get your head out of the gutter: “f” for FINALS.
After talking to several veteran final-taking pros*, four universal tips have been highlighted. If followed, they can only help, not harm, while preparing for the exams that are worth ten percent of your grade, and can make or break that letter grade.
Tip One: Get Organized
One pro recommends, “Go through the textbook/notes/old tests and stuff and compile a notes sheet. Formulas, definitions, facts, stuff [you’ve] gotten wrong in the past, etc!”
If you have been putting a date on your papers just like your middle and elementary school teachers advised you to, this process will be a breeze. Once all your material is organized, read through them like a booklet: go through the notes, then the classwork/homework, and then attempt to retake the tests and quizzes.
Another pro recommends, “Have a couple of places that you designate as study areas when you’re prepping so that you have an environment that immediately puts you in the proper frame of mind for studying.”
Hmmm…now what place is a) quiet, b) distraction free, and c) available to all for no charge…how about a library! As clichéd as it may be, a library is a great place to hit the books — no brothers or sisters nagging to play with you, no parents telling you what to do, no plethora of food temptingly awaiting to be consumed by someone … and the fact that you are surrounded by brilliant works of literature only enhances the studious atmosphere. If the library is just not your thing, make it your thing. If it truly doesn’t work for you, any room in your house can be just as effective as long as you can remain focused. So, studying in your basement surrounded by your video games and TV isn’t the best idea.
Tip Two: Network
Talk to your teachers and ask them if there are any review sessions that are going to be held. Ask them if they have extra review packets you can take a look at. Ask your friends these questions too, especially if they are taking the same class with a different teacher. Many times teachers have different perspectives on how to prepare their students for finals; your teacher may offer review sheets, while your friend’s might not, and your other friend’s teacher may offer review sheets that are entirely different than the one your teacher may have given you. Since the majority of the finals are created by teachers through a group effort, it is extremely beneficial to get information from as many different sources as possible.
One pro also advises to form “study groups…[which]can help you talk about things you’ve learned”. Talking in your study group is great — just make sure you are studying too.
Tip Three: R-E-L-A-X…
…in moderation. Once you’ve put in a conscientious effort into studying, feel free to take a break — your brain will need it! However, a few hours of lost sleep here and there never killed anyone. So don’t be afraid to lose a little beauty sleep this week by putting in more hours of studying if necessary, because now is the time reviewing will benefit you the most, not the night before the finals.
The pros recommend getting “a good night’s sleep two days before the test.”. This will ensure that you are fully awake and have enough energy to take your final — generally speaking, most people perform poorly when taking tests while half asleep.
And for the night before the final, DO NOT STRESS: “Take a deep breath and know you have done all the work for the semester and will be fine…cramming will not help. What helps is a good night’s sleep and perspective.”
Studies have shown that the simple action of visualizing success greatly increases the chances of succeeding in reality. So take a minute and just picture yourself completing the last question on your final, and imagine the feeling of knowing you did well. Optimism, people, optimism.
And last, but most definitely not least — perhaps the most important of them all:
Tip Four: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE
Okay, I’ll say it one more time: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. Obviously, quite easier said than done considering we all do it (and if you somehow know the secret to avoiding it, please do share in the comments below and you shall receive a gold star). If internet distractions are your vice, and you use Mozilla Firefox, “LeechBlock” shall be your best (and worst) friend. It is an app that has the ability to put a lock on certain websites when you tell it to, and the best part is, the lock is completely undoable for the time you set it to. Quite foolproof — unless you are so desperate to check your Facebook newsfeed for the tenth time that you uninstall the app…to which I can only say, been there, done that, don’t do it. If you prefer Explorer or Chrome, however, a pro suggests, “Shut off the WiFi or… put [yourself] in a room without access to electronic devices. It can be helpful to come up with a routine, for example, saying you’ll check your email or Facebook or something every two hours.”
And if you truly have an overwhelming urge to procrastinate, why not learn about why you are putting things off in the first place? Click here, and productive-procrastinate away!
And there you have it. Though these tips can by no means replace a whole year of hard work and persistent learning, they can definitely only benefit you. So good luck, everyone, and no matter how impressively or poorly you do, you will survive. We all do. And in case you need a little motivation to survive: eight more days till summer officially begins (including weekends and finals week).
*Pros are graduated seniors who have seen it all but, here, are kept anonymous because, well, it’s easier.