Tips to ace finals this year

Madelaine Province, Staff Writer

Final exams are right around the corner, and so are the challenges that come with them. Finals can be a significant source of stress for students, but knowing some tips for studying can help alleviate that burden. One of the most important things to do during this time is to try to eliminate unproductive habits and instead focus on the studying methods that work for you.  

Many students psych themselves out worrying about the exams instead of focusing on studying for them. Take a step back and focus on what you can control, which is how you study. The following strategies have been proved to increase the outcome of higher test scores. 

Make the most of class time. If you finish your class work and have free time left over, use that time as an opportunity for studying rather than recreation. This way, you get extra study time and also don’t need to spend as much time at home studying. Continuing to study in small increments of time that you normally wouldn’t be helps your brain to retain the information and have it ready the day of your exam. 

“[Studying] needs to happen not just a couple days before finals, but frequently throughout the semester,” Christina Grove, CLR facilitator, said. “Quizlet is a very helpful tool because you can make your own quizzes based on your needs. If you don’t have access to Quizlet, you can go to the Dollar Tree and get index cards to be able to continuously review your notes. The other part of being able to read and review your notes is using something that helps to solidify that knowledge in your mind and make sure you can get plenty of exposure to it.” 

Take breaks. While studying is important, doing it for too long can start to burn you out and cause your studying to be less effective. If you’ve been spending a lot of time on one subject, switch to another to prevent “learning fatigue.” It is recommended to switch topics or take short breaks every thirty minutes. After sufficient time away from studying, you can go back and revisit the more challenging topics now that your brain has been recharged. 

Rewrite your notes. Oftentimes, when a student is taking notes in class, they’re more focused on just getting all the information down rather than actually understanding and retaining the materia. Rewriting your notes helps to reinforce the information you learned, helping your brain to remember and understand it better. When rewriting your notes, read over them two or three times before you start writing. This way, you have a relative grasp of what the topic is before you start rewriting them. Rereading and rewriting your notes is an effective way to help your brain better remember and reserve information needed for your finals. 

“If you have taken notes throughout the semester, go back and look at all of the learning targets that have been covered in the class and create a few test questions connected to those targets,” Christina Sneed, ELA curriculum and instruction director, said. “Try to see; do you understand them? Can you speak to them? Can you analyze whatever it is that it’s asking you to do? One, do you know what it’s asking you to do, and then two, can you do it?”

Find a good study spot. Whether it be a room in your home, a cafe, or a library, having a designated place to study can help a lot. Make sure it’s an area you can focus well and won’t be easily distracted. It is recommended to stay away from studying in places like a bed or comfortable chair because it can be tempting to stop working and just relax or sleep instead. If you study at your house, you should find a desk or table to do your studying at. Cafes can be distracting because of the loud noises, but some people prefer having noise around them to study. If you’re a person who doesn’t like lots of sound near you, try a library instead. 

“Setting the environment for where you study is very important,” Grove said. “Students often like to study with rap music, but research shows that when there’s words to your music it actually distracts you from what you’re trying to do. Make sure you’re in spaces that are conducive to your learning as best you can. I know that’s not always possible, but try to be in a place free of distractions that allows you to focus.”