Finals Week Prep
Ah, finals week. The most dreaded week of the semester. Combine a handful of exams with stress, sleep deprivation, and an excessive amount of caffeine and you get a full-on zombie student. But with the right preparation and study methods, you can make the week a little more bearable. After finishing my master’s degree, here are my tips and tricks to make finals week that much easier!
Finals week stinks. Literally – the amount of people that skip showering in order to get more study time will surprise you. If you’ve ever had to take an exam during the later half of finals week in a just-warm-enough-to-make-you-sweat room, then you know what I’m talking about. But seriously, finals week is rough. Studying for an exam is stressful enough, but with the added issue of all of your classes having exams in the same week it can be even worse.
Thankfully, with the right preparation, you can turn the most stressful week of the semester into a mild annoyance. The key is starting early. For most of you reading this, finals week will be during the last week of the semester, usually in early/mid May. That gives you almost a full month from the publishing of this post to get you stuff together! So let’s get to it!
1) Study Smarter, not Harder
The sooner you start studying, the less cramming you have to do later. A little bit every day is much easier to manage than an entire semester’s worth in one weekend. Make it as easy as you can for yourself come finals week! Don’t wait until the last minute to cram an entire semester’s worth of classes an their information. It will not work. All you end up doing is exhausting yourself. Do a little bit of each class each day. That way, the time finals week rolls around, you don’t have a ton of actual studying to do. You just have to do a small review.
Plus, when doing a little bit every day, you still have time to get all of your assignments done before finals week starts. You don’t have to rush to finish everything in order to start studying! You don’t delay
2) Study The Right Way – Your Way
Everyone studies differently. There is no universal secret to learning that we’ve decided to hide from each other. Everyone learns differently. For some flash cards are awesome, others can just read their notes and be fine. The key is to figure out which way works best for you as soon as possible.
When I was working on my master’s degree in anatomy and forensic anthropology, I had a lot of new stuff to learn. Being so busy meant I didn’t have time to play around with study methods, but I knew what didn’t work while I was in my undergrad. Flash cards weren’t for me – they took too much time to make and ultimately didn’t help me that much. I would space out if I simply re-read my notes over and over again. I couldn’t just type my notes because I would end up not paying attention in class. So what do I do? For most of my classes the presentations were posted online, but they were missing a lot of information. I decided to take handwritten notes while I was actually in class, and use the presentations to supplement my notes.
When I finished class for the day during my first semester, I would take out my notes for each of my classes, pull up the presentations, and neatly re-write all of my notes into a separate notebook. I used the presentations to keep me on track and fill in any gaps I might’ve had. After I made my notes readable and organized, I would type up all of my notes. Rather than type them exactly as I had written, I used my own words in my typed notes. This allowed me to think about what I was reading, interpret it, and rewrite it in a way that I understood. As we would finish a chapter, I would also go through and draw any relevant diagrams or images on a blank piece of paper in order to better understand the subject.
As I finished doing all of this, I would actually tape my printed notes with my drawings up on the wall above my desk for easy referencing! I know this sounds like a tedious and complicated process, but after I finished doing everything above, I would have been through my notes 4 times already. Every day, I would re-read all of my notes, adding a new chapter as they were done over the course of the semester. By the time finals week rolled around, I didn’t have to do a crazy amount of studying. I could focus more on reviewing practical material in my labs instead!
The key to studying is study in a way that works for you! Work out what has worked and hasn’t worked out for you in the past. Alter an old method or find a new method. Most colleges and universities will have a learning center or something similar where you can go in and they will help you figure out how you should be studying. Use this to your advantage!
3) Get Some Rest
It is proven that pulling an all-nighter actually does more harm than cutting your study session short and getting some sleep. So rest up! You aren’t helping yourself by depriving yourself of sleep.
4) Stay Healthy and Take Care of Yourself
Make sure to eat well! Not only will it keep your energy levels up so that you can power through those review sessions, but it will also keep your stress levels low and your mind sharp! Make sure you are putting more into your body than just caffeine.
5) Keep Your Stress Levels As Low As Possible
Finals week is stressful. I get it. But sometimes, it becomes to much – we can’t focus, we can’t eat, we get depressed, we want just give up. Sounds familiar? The solution: take a break. The study police aren’t going to show up and take you away just because you needed 15 minutes for some self-care. Make sure you are taking regular study breaks and doing something other than school-related stuff during them! Take a bubble bath, read a few chapters of a book that isn’t your textbook, watch an episode of Parks and Rec, etc. Get your mind off of school-related topics and give yourself a break! If you need some self-care ideas, check out my How To Have The Best Self-Care Sunday post!
What are some of your tips and advice for finals week? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!