If exam anxiety creeps up on you every finals week, or you simply can’t stand taking exams, you aren’t alone. Final exam week is stressful, to say the least.
Of course, your GPA and sanity depend on a high grade, but acing exams isn’t necessarily your thing. So, now your new obsession is optimizing your study habits because this exam will be different.
Studying effectively for final exams seems to be easier said than done. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with practical advice on how to get the most out of your study sessions and, in turn, do well on your exams.
Designate a Study Space
Our first tip for acing your final exam is to designate a study space. If you can study in your bed and actually get something out of it, kudos to you. Most of us can’t do it because it sends mixed signals to our brain, and our bodies don’t know if we should be sleeping or doing.
You can make things clearer for your mind and body by designating a study space that encourages you to focus on learning and studying productively. Consider the following when designing your study area:
- Access to high-speed internet
- Comfortable furniture
- A sturdy desk or table
- Accessories and Artwork
Create a Study Schedule
Don’t just wing it when it comes to studying. That’s how all-nighters happen, and we can honestly say cramming the night before an exam won’t get you favorable test results. Instead, create a study schedule to ensure you’re giving yourself ample time to study.
Implementing a study schedule all year is ideal, but you should give yourself at least a couple of weeks minimum to study before your exam. Choose blocks of time to study each day. Be sure to take frequent breaks during your sessions to give your mind time to refresh and reset before diving back in.
Organize Your Notes
You’ve learned a lot come the end of a quarter or semester. You likely have more notes and notebooks than you know what to do with, but all of the information in them is crucial to keep. When it’s time for your final exam, it’s a good idea to take some time to organize your notes.
You can loosely organize your notes or use something more structured like a mind map. Converting your notes into mind maps can help you better understand complex information because it’s visually presented to you, easy to review, and manageable.
Once your notes are organized, you can review them against the study guide provided by your professor. Or, you can create a study guide of your own based on your notes and begin studying that way.
Prioritize Sleep and Nutrition
It might be tempting to pull all-nighters and survive on snacks during finals week, but do everything you can to avoid both. You must get a good night’s rest, not just the night before your exam, but every night in the weeks leading up to it. You should also pay special attention to how you’re fueling your body.
Do your best to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night and eat healthily throughout each day. When you’re well-rested and well-fed, you’re mind, body, and spirit will remain in tip-top shape, making it easier for you to study.
Get a Study Buddy
If you study better alone, no problem. However, don’t feel bad if you need someone beside you to get the most out of studying.
Reach out to your classmates and see if they’re interested in forming a study group. You can meet in person or virtually. Just be sure everyone in the group is on board with when you’re going to meet and what you will study in each particular session.
You can also study with friends who aren’t in the same classes as you. Sometimes just being around other students who understand what you’re going through is enough to keep you motivated and uplifted during this stressful time.
Enlist the Help of Your Professors
Not enough students do it, but enlisting the help of your professors when studying for your final exams is wise. Although it may seem like your professors are the enemy at times, they’re there to help you and want to see you succeed. Don’t feel like you have to do this alone.
Take full advantage of office hours. You’d be surprised how many professors are longing for just one student to visit them when their doors are open. You’d also be surprised at how helpful and memorable office hour sessions can be.
So, compile your most pressing questions and head to your professor’s office to get them all hashed out so that you’re thoroughly prepared for your final exam.
Final exams are no joke. Just thinking about them can trigger anxiety, and the next thing you know, you’re talking yourself out of even showing up. But this doesn’t have to be you. Instead, implement the tips above to have the best chance at acing your final exam.