Ahh, finals, the doomsday of every student! Chances are you’re currently reading this while hoping for the best but preparing (hopefully by studying) for the worst. It doesn’t have to be that way. Finals aren’t the end of the world; they mark the end of the semester — the final push before a well-deserved vacation. It’s indeed a stressful time, as you must go through a lot of material. However, you may also feel anxious if you don’t have the right tools to tackle your exams. Here are three studying habits and techniques you must adopt to nail your final exams.
Study properly according to your class
There are two type of classes in university: technical classes and non-technical classes. You must recognize the category in which each of your classes fall and adopt the appropriate study methods.
Largely reading-based, these are classes that involve little or no mathematics. They’re heavy on essays and discussions about theories or concepts. English literature, psychology, and political science are few examples. If one of your classes falls in this category, here’s how you should prepare for your final:
- Create a bank of questions that are most likely on your exam and challenge yourself to answer them with flashcards.
- Make a quick summary of the readings that are on your exam and compare them with your class notes.
- Have a discussion about the various concepts and theories you need to know with classmates and people unfamiliar with the subject.
Math-based, these classes involve the application of theories and concepts through exercises. On a weekly basis, you most likely get exercises from your professor, online, or through assignments. Economics, applied mathematics, and finance fall under this category. If this sounds like one of the classes you’ve had this semester, here’s how to study properly for the final:
- Ditch note-reading and focus on doing exercises.
- Collect every assignment and piece of homework given by your teacher that is relevant to your exam and complete them all. Make sure you can do them without your notes.
- Have conversations with friends to test if you understand the concepts and theories and can interpret the results you get in your exercises.
Choose the appropriate study location
The environment you’re studying in makes a big difference to how well you study and ultimately perform on your final. Chances are your main location is your school library or a coffee shop, but these might not be optimal spots for you. Here are a few pointers on how to choose the right study spot:
- Study in the library in the silent section if you’re sensitive to noise and if you’re easily distracted. This works well if you have a short attention span.
- Have your study sessions in the area of the library where talking is allowed if you can study well despite ambient noise. This allows you to work in teams and consult classmates if you need help. It works well if you have a long attention span and can control urges to procrastinate.
- Study in a coffee shop with a lot of natural light and beautiful scenery. This can positively affect your mood and increase your motivation to study. This works well if you’re sensitive to your environment and if the amount of lighting is important for you.
- Study outside! A beautiful landscape is a great motivation booster. This works well if you don’t mind the ambient noise, regardless of your attention span.
How to study efficiently for a long period of time
Finals mean crunch time. Whether you’ve been up-to-date or behind during the semester, you still have the feeling that you need to put in more hours in order to nail your finals — and you’re right. It is necessary to dedicate more time to reviewing your course materials and ensuring that you understand them completely.
If you’re a student, just like me, you know that there are two ways of doing this. You can either put in an insane amount of hours that are inefficient, or you can adopt smart studying techniques to make the best of your time. If you feel like the former applies to you and you’re about to step into the library with the goal of spending the next 12 hours studying, follow these few steps:
- For every 60 minutes of study, take a 15-minute break. This allows you to recover and increase your long-term concentration.
- Frequently change tasks; don’t study the same material for hours. Boredom is a killer, so make sure to stimulate your brain by covering various classes on the same day.
- Tag along with classmates to have some assistance when needed. They will also give you some extra motivation!
- Bring only the essential materials you need. Leave any electronic devices at home if you know they frequently distract you.
The end of the semester always requires more energy, and it’s not easy — no one said that it would be. But you can make it easier by adopting the right attitude, habits, and techniques. Allow yourself to make mistakes and always push yourself further. Like anything worth learning in this world, this is a process that you must go through to attain the grades that you deserve!