So it’s finals week and you haven’t opened your textbook once this semester…
By Madelyn Olsen
This is about the time that most students realize that they are short on time and probably should have been studying weeks ago. Here’s a crash course to last minute studying.
If there’s minimal time to study for an exam, a strategy is necessary, and good notes are key.
Before you even start, remember that not all final exams and papers are weighed the same. Check the class syllabus to see what percentage each final exam/paper is worth.
Knowing this, you can prioritize by which classes you should spend more time studying for.
Next, figure out what you really need to study. Many teachers hand out study guides, so be sure to use them. While they probably won’t cover everything that will be on the test, you’ll at least be able to focus on the key topics.
Now that you know what to study and for which classes, you can sit down and start the studying.
Get in the right environment, make sure you have a clear amount of space for your books and notes, and set the atmosphere. Whether that means bright lights, loud music, comfortable chairs or a room full of people, do whatever gets you to focus the most.
Alright, enough stalling, take out your notes and log out of your social networks. As long as you went to the majority of classes and at least half listened, you should have some pretty decent notes—and if you don’t, borrow a friend’s.
Read through your notes, and highlight or underline things that stick out to you: important definitions, concepts, equations, formulas, etc. Anything that doesn’t jump out in your memory and you can recall easily, write down on a review sheet.
Not only will rewriting help you remember, but this paper can be used later when you’re cramming right before the exam.
Once you’ve thoroughly looked over your notes, crack open that dusty textbook. Try to read it without falling asleep, as hard as it may be. Pay special attention to the beginnings and ends of chapters, and skim through the chapters and section headings.
If your textbook has review questions at the end of chapters, quiz yourself using them. If any of the questions are especially difficult, write them down on your review sheet.
Now, for most students, time management is not a strong suit, but it’s better not to study in four-hour-long blocks without breaks.
Studying for hours on end without taking breaks can cause restlessness, lack of concentration and reduced learning. Psychological studies have shown that taking regular breaks actually helps. Scientists conclude that the brain stops registering a constant stimulation over a gradual period of time and declares it to be unimportant.
If you feel yourself unable to focus or more bored than usual, take a break, eat a snack, jump up and down, do whatever it takes. Then get back to work.
It’s not always easy to make enough time for sleep, but when you are studying and worrying about finals, it is important. Whoever said sleep is for the weak was wrong. Sleep isn’t for the weak. Sleep keeps you from being weak.
Study as long as you can, and fill your brain with as much information as possible. Then go to bed. Pulling an all nighter will most likely cause you to be tired and careless come exam time. Lack of sleep can lower your memory’s performance.
Create a battle plan, and crush this finals week.