Everything You Need To Help Get You Through That Last Week of Exams
It is that dreaded time of year filled with sleep deprivation, an excessive amount of coffee orders, and hours and hours of studying That’s right, it is finals week! Around this time in the semester, you have endless projects, papers, assignments, and exams to prepare for. Not to mention, all of these grades are a huge part of your class grade. They are more than everything else combined in most cases! It can be super stressful and hard to manage. For your convenience, we have compiled an entire survival guide to help you get through the week from start to finish.
Prepare For Exam Week Ahead of Time
Figure Out Exam Schedule
Before you even start trying to tackle all you have to, figure out where and when all of your final exams take place. Write all of that information down. That way, you are studying in the order of priority. This will also help you manage your time wisely. You can start figuring out what information you need to study more than others and plan accordingly.
Plan out all of Your Projects, Papers, and Assignments
Another step in the planning process is to figure out all that you need to have done. In addition to exams, you probably have final projects and final papers. Write down due dates and presentation dates for all of those things. Once you have everything written out you should start to develop a plan on how you will accomplish everything. Projects and papers usually take longer, so give yourself the proper time for those things. It is also helpful to create any study guides, essay outlines, etc. before the time actually comes.
Gather Supplies Before Exams Start
You do not want to be stressing the week of exams because you don’t have study supplies. Head out to the store the week before to stock up on anything you might need. Get note cards, pens, pencils, highlighters, and anything else you use to study. Don’t forget about water and snacks too!
Reach Out To Your Support System
Make sure to let everyone around you know that finals week is coming and that you are going to be stressed out. This will remind them to check in on you and send you reminders, or it may just let them know they should back off for the week. Letting your support network know could even end with you getting a Finals Survival Kit. Above all else, it will let the people that care about you know that you may need them this week.
Take Care of Yourself
Get Enough Sleep.
It might seem impossible to go to sleep when you think of the huge amount of projects, papers, and exams ahead of you, but it is important. Your brain needs sleep to help you retain information. While one or two all nighters are inevitable in your college experience, do not make a habit of it, especially during finals week. You will do a lot better on finals if you are not sleep deprived when taking the exam.
Take Breaks Often.
Studying for hours on end is not an efficient way of retaining information. A big portion of that studying is probably you zoning out and not remembering what you are reading. Take short breaks every couple of hours. Take a walk or go get something to drink. Consider moving study spots. Depending on your self-control, you may want to watch a short Youtube video. When the video is over, return to studying.
Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthy.
Once you start getting into the swing of things, it can be really easy to forget about meals. It is important to keep eating and stay energized. Don’t let yourself run on coffee and energy bars. Take a break and go eat an actual meal. Try to stick to healthy protein-filled options to give you more energy. Make sure you are drinking enough water too!
Reread Your Own Notes
Before you go reciting the textbook to yourself over and over again, you may want to consider reading your own notes. Your notes are written by you, so they are in a language that you understand and they are abbreviated, making it a much easier studying experience altogether. It is times like these where you will wish you took better notes. We recommend keeping one running document of notes for each class, that way you can look over noted from start to finish during finals week.
Review Lecture Slides
The book might be helpful for a few definitions here and there, but reading the book probably won’t help you much. Reviewing your professor’s lecture slides are the best way to study for exams. You have all the information that your professor thinks is important ready at your fingertips. Go in order, from the first class to the last and quiz yourself on that information. This is probably where your professor is getting all of his information from while he is making the exam. Most professors make their lecture slides available online.
Use Study Guides, or Make Your Own
The best professors always give you a study guide for the final exam. If you have the study guide, forget about everything else. That study guide is crafted by the same person that crafted your final. Everything you need to know should be on there and if it isn’t, your professor will let you know what else to look over. Unfortunately, many professors do not give out final study guides. Instead, you might get a bullet listed sheet with all of the information you will need to know on the final exam. Or, in the worst cases, they will give you no information at all.
If you don’t get a study guide, you should make your own. Imagine you are the professor and make up questions that you think you will need to know. Use whatever information you have at your disposal. If you have a bulleted list, it will be much easier to create your own study guide. If you don’t, use your own notes, professor lecture slides, and the textbook. Look back at old assignments, key learning objectives, and tests to pull questions from there.
Tips For The Day Of Tests
Get to the Testing Area Early
In a lot of cases, your final is at a different time and different classroom from your original class. Make sure you double and triple check the testing schedule for that information. Make sure you are there early so that you won’t need to rush and will have plenty of time to settle into your desk and fill out your scantron. A good rule of thumb is to get there 10 to 15 minutes earlier than then when the exam starts. These days are usually very official and start promptly at the listed start time. You do not want to be the person walking in as the instructor is giving instructions.
Bring Multiple Pens or Pencils, or Both
It sounds super simple, but it is something students forget all the time. If you are testing using a scantron, you need a no. 2 pencil. If you are used to taking notes with pens, you might have to prepare for this far ahead of time. Whatever your writing utensil is, bring a couple just in case. You never know when your pen is going to stop working or your pencil tip is going to break. If nothing else, you can help a friend in need.
Do Some Last-Minute Cramming
While there is probably a bunch of articles written on not doing this, cramming the last minute can actually be pretty helpful. Let me be clear, you should not wait until the last minute to look over materials, but getting in a few last-minute glances at your materials can make a big difference on your exam. You might remember something that will help you get just one more question right, and that makes it all worth it.
Remind Yourself Why You Are Doing This
When you are working this hard, it can be tough to stay motivated. After all, no one likes studying and taking exams. So, when it is three am and you are cramming for an exam you might find yourself questioning why you are putting yourself through this. It is important to remind yourself what good is going to come from this.
You can start by just thinking as soon as I am done with finals, it will all be over and I will be on break. That simple statement might just get you through. Think of all the things you are excited to do. If that doesn’t do the trick, think past break. Why are you taking these exams? To get your degree! Imagine graduation day and how all of this will be worth it. Do not just think about getting the piece of paper, think about all of the things it will allow you to accomplish. Hopefully, that means getting paid to do something that you love. These simple mind exercises will remind you that all of this is worth it.