My first finals week experience with a few tips on how to survive it.
So, December 11, 2014 wrapped up my final exam for Fall Semester of my freshman year at Wofford College. All of those memes and blogs on www.buzzfeed.com about finals? Totally true. I tried to remain positive throughout the week but the overshadowing thoughts of failure floated around the back of my mind. I started studying a week early. I made note cards, I highlighted excessively, I read through the text books, and I got involved in study groups. I’ll be straightforward, reading the text book didn't do shit for me. So here are some things that, although I didn’t realize it at the time, helped me the most.
1. Start with an understanding of the general topic then move into more detail.
Let’s take psychology for example. If you don’t know how to scientifically define memory, how are you ever going to explain the different types of memory and how they relate to learning?
2. Tell someone about what you learned.
It doesn’t matter who it is: roommate, mom, dad, friendly person standing next to you in line. It doesn’t matter if they listen to what you’re saying (but it helps if they ask questions). If you can tell someone about something and not have to look in your book to explain it, you know the material. Another thing that could fall under this category is making a PowerPoint presentation like you are going to present everything that you’ve learned thus far.
3. Study Groups.
At first, I opposed study groups. I thought, “well this is going to just be a bunch of chit-chatting and we’re never going to get anything done.” I was wrong. This is when I realized how serious people take college. This isn’t highschool anymore. The people that are in college truly care about their education. We quizzed each other and “I don’t know” was never a good enough answer in my group.
4. Talk to your professor.
The most important thing I’ve learned in college is that if you need help, ASK. Talking to your professor before an exam (a week before not an hour before) not only shows him/her that you’re trying hard, but there’s a possibility your professor will give you some insight as to what you need to focus on when you study.
5. Don’t procrastinate.
Ah. Procrastination. My biggest problem during exam week. Whenever I sat down to work, I was fine. But when I took a study break, I took it to the extreme. I’m talking a 3 and 4 hour study break. Don’t get me wrong, study breaks a great…but go ahead and get your work done. Work for a solid 50 minutes then allow yourself a 10–15 minute study break. Fully dedicate yourself solely to your work during the 50 minutes. Set a timer on your phone then put your phone on the opposite side of the room. Clear your desk of any distractions and WORK. Not only will you get more done faster, you’ll really appreciate the 10 minutes you have for a break.
Now that studying tips are out of the way, here’s some things to remember throughout your dreaded finals week.
- You’ve already learned the material once. If you learned it right, you should remember at least some of it so nothing on the final will be new to you.
- Coffee will be your bestfriend. Ask your family for Starbucks giftcards in advance so you don’t kill your bank account.
- YOUR HEALTH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL. I can’t stress this enough! I know 8 hours of sleep every night during exam week might be asking a lot. But no sleep along with tons of stress can really take a number on your body. Eat healthy, sleep as much as you can, and take care of your personal hygeine.
- One grade is not going to determine your life. This does not mean take finals lightly. Finals do count as a big chunk of your grade…but if you worked hard during the semester, it shouldn’t effect if you pass or fail.
- Dress for success. If you look good, you test good. No, this isn’t scientifically proven. But when you look nice, it gives you a boost of confidence and confidence is what you need going into your final. And hey, if you fail your final at least you looked damn good doing it.
- Last but not least, DON’T CHEAT! I don’t care how bad you need to pass, cheating is not worth it.