Your guide to surviving finals week
Finals week. UGH. You're probably thinking summer is so close you can taste it. Or maybe even graduation! But it's important to remain calm and survive the dreaded week of finals.
My friend and fellow Spokester from Young & Free Indiana put together some great tips for surviving finals week. Take a look below for her awesome finals week how-to guide:
Make a List + Pack Your Bags
Determine what you really need to freshen up on and review the most. Has your teacher/professor dropped any major hints about what to expect? Stock up on past handouts, assignments, and notes that you recall being the most focused on throughout the semester and pack up the textbook for reference. Steer clear of printing off tons of new material and research - that information will be way too new and too intense at this point to remember if you didn't cover it already - stick to what you've got.
Fall Off the Radar
Find a study space that is free and clear of all distractions. Leave your messy room and roommate behind, shut off your phone, and disconnect from wi-fi. The constant need to check up on social media and respond to text messages, an the convenient excuses like, "I could be cleaning my room instead of studying," or "I'm just going to take part in this pizza party for a little bit" are super dangerous, especially if you're low on time. Find a work area like the library, an empty common room, or a coffeeshop to do your studying.
Plan for Breaks + Snacks
Plan to give yourself a ten minute break each hour (or five minutes every half hour.) You can turn on your phone and catch up, go for a walk, stretch it out, or just relax to clear your head and prep your body for the next hour. But SET A TIMER. Once it goes off, you're done. Back to the books. Stock up on a few smart snacks, too. Go for water or sports drinks instead of coffee and bring along snacks like apples and peanut butter or Goldfish to keep you truly full and alert - and away from wasting time at the vending machine or on the phone with the pizza delivery guy.
Review, Review, Review
If you're studying last minute, you don't have time to fully read and take in each and every page of your textbook. Instead, focus on reviewing lecture notes, making flash cards (you can do this online) of key words, concepts, or phrases, and reading chapter summaries and "key notes" from the textbook.
Speed Read, Effectively
Choose a few sections from your textbook that you need major refreshing on or know that you really should have read before but didn't. Again, you can't read it all and comprehend it all, so focusing on just a few major areas is more important. You'll want to be able to master the SQ3R Method (Survey, Question, Read, Review, Recite.) That is,
- Survey - Scan the material before you actually begin reading. Pay special attention to titles, headings, bold or italicized words, chapter summaries, diagrams, and pictures with captions.
- Question - As you read, you should constantly ask yourself what the key take-away point is.
- Read - Read what you need to read, but focus on comprehending the material. Seek the facts and write information down as you learn.
- Review - Review what you have learned when you finish reading. Look at your notes, chapter summaries, or things you have written in the margin and then reflect on key concepts.
- Recite - Recite what you have learned aloud in your own words until you are confident that you understand the material and could explain it to someone else.
[SQ3R Information courtesy of this article.]
Most textbooks offer end-of-chapter review questions. Teachers' and professors' test questions are often inspired by these. Flashcards work wonders, too. Especially since you'll have to focus on writing them out and answering them so soon before the test. If you're familiar with the teacher's exam style, step back and think about A.) What type of tests he/she usually gives (essay, short answer, multiple choice) and B.) What he/she spent the most time discussing in class - then, create a practice exam based on these.
Two heads may not always be better than one, but in this case, they might be! If there's a fellow student in class that you get along with, invite them to do some last minute review (the night before or hour or two before the test.) He/she may have retained different information than you and vice versa, so you can help each other out. Swap notes and flashcards and take note of what one of you may have missed.
Find Out What Works for You + Use It
After several nights of cramming for a test, you'll find out what the best last-minute study method is for you. For me, it's writing and re-writing information over and over again. I guess it's because if I'm taking the time to write it, I might as well memorize it. For some, actually talking about and telling someone the information out loud makes it stick. For others, reading may be enough.
[For more tips and tricks on cramming for tests, check out this article.]
Throughout finals week, eat well, get plenty of sleep, and take a time out here and there to do things that make you happy and relieve some of the exam week stress!