First of all, don’t start studying the day of the test. Secondly, have a plan! I’ve developed a perfect plan that has helped me stay stress-free and prepared for the much dreaded week in college history: finals week.
You can’t expect to do well if you study weeks worth of material in only a few hours. I guess you can, but is it effective? Probably not. I’ve developed a pretty good set of guidelines for myself that have allowed me to ace my exams. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
I start thinking about finals as early as the start of the quarter.
I have to credit a lot of my success in school by having a great plan. I start thinking about finals once I get my course syllabus. Everything I need to know is usually on a syllabus, and it allows me to gauge what kind of studying strategy i’ll need for finals.
I don’t take shortcuts.
I actually take the time to read all material associated with the final exam in extreme detail. I take notes on what I read by summarizing major concepts, and then I’ll revisit my notes at the end of each week. I do this all the way up until finals, so essentially I am always “studying”. This method allows me to spend about 2 hours a week reviewing notes and skimming through key sections in the textbook that I highlighted. This breaks down that major “study session” I used to do the night before the final. That never really worked out for me, and starting to study during the quarter helps out tremendously when finals week rolls around.
I create a schedule.
I am very meticulous about my work, and how I approach it. I schedule time for studying in my planner and it motivates me to stay on track. Sometimes I get lazy too, but I cannot let it cost me my grades! Scheduling planned study time prevents me from making plans to do other things, helping me stay on top of my studies.
I try to take a 10 minute break between for every half hour that I study. It helps me take a step away from my intense mind crunch which prevents me from burnout. I’ll do anything I want in those 10 minutes and then i’m ready to get back into the groove. It has really saved me from information overload syndrome, which has been a culprit in study burnout.
I don’t load up on sugars and caffeine when it’s time to study. I already eat pretty healthy, but during finals prep week I am much more strict on what I am eating. Feeding my body with foods high in nutrients and vitamins helps me feel great and non-sluggish. It’s important to fuel your body correctly! Eliminating junk from my diet eliminates the feeling grossness, to put it quite simply.
I won’t study the day before.
The day before an exam, I will not do studying of any kind. It sound counter-productive but because i’ve spent all quarter studying material week by week, I could afford to have a “rest” day before the exam. I like to relax and take a break. It helps me stay refreshed for the day of the exam. Obviously, if I didn’t study at all, I would probably be using this day studying all day instead of relaxing. Not fun!
So, will all of this work for you?
I don’t know. Everybody learns differently, and this is what worked for me. It took years of trying different methods to finally narrow down on what works best for me.
My best advice: live and learn.