Finals Week: Crunch Time

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

This is my last full week of classes before final exams start next Monday. Do you know what that means? It's crunch time, baby! This is the time of the semester when you study your buns off, write final papers until the lines are blurry, and practice your presentations until they're forever engrained in your mind. Everybody's finals week run a bit differently, but I hope that these little tips and tricks can help make yours run as smoothly as it possibly can. Plus, if anything goes wrong, just pop a chocolate square in your mouth and all will be right again.



FOR EXAMS:

1. Hit the books, hard

Yep, textbooks that you haven't bothered touching all semester might just become your best friend. When unclear notes or vague Powerpoints fail, hopefully the textbook will fill in those information gaps during your study sessions.

2. Take the study guide seriously

I talked about this in my regular studying tips post, but this time it's more important than ever. If your professor took the time to write out a study guide for your final exam, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.  They're not doing it to trick you, they're trying to help you succeed!

3. Reread your PowerPoints

If you have a professor who lectures with PowerPoints, chances are you probably either didn't go to class or if you did go to class, you might not have been paying attention because you thought "oh, the PowerPoint is online, I'm fine." Now is your chance to go through your past presentations so you can see the most important points from the chapters and lessons all in one convenient place.

4. Study groups

There is strength in numbers, my friends. When you study in a group, you can build off of each other's ideas and test each other in ways that you probably couldn't sitting by yourself in your room (which is normally my preferred choice of studying, I digress.) Plus, if you missed a class or two, your study partners might be able to fill you in on important points from that days lessons.

Past study tips here and here, as well as a studying playlist, and a post about the woes of finals week and how to recover from them.

FOR PRESENTATIONS:

1. Make a PowerPoint or a Prezi / Use visual aids

This is probably pretty self explanatory, but using an electronic presentation is probably much easier than trying to make multiple posters or trying to give a presentation with no visuals at all. Visual aids are a way to present your information that can grab your audience's attention while giving you a prop to lean on if you blank on a piece of information.

2. Practice and time yourself

If you know that your presentation has to be, for example, five to 10 minutes, go through your presentation and time yourself. Keep a steady pace and give your presentation like you would during your actual class time to simulate an accurate representation of it. This will gage whether you need to add more information or even take some out if it seems to be too long! Plus, practicing will just make you more comfortable with the information you're trying to convey to the class. You want to make sure that you know what you're talking about before you go in front of the class and professor.

3. Don't read directly off of your slides

When you're doing a PowerPoint presentation, it's easy to write everything down on a slide and read it verbatim, but that's more of a lecture and less of a presentation. Write down small facts that you can confidently build off of. Your slides are not your script, but rather a guide. If you're worried about freezing up, memorize your information without featuring it on a slide or improvise off of the prompts you give yourself. If necessary, make yourself some flashcards, but again, these are not a script! You really need to know the information if you want to make a convincing presentation.

FOR PAPERS:

1. Refer to my The Anatomy of a Good College Paper post

This gives you a guide on how I wrote my final paper for my English class my first semester of college, as well as some general writing tips.

2. EDIT EDIT EDIT

This is your final paper, do not treat it like a small essay worth a small percentage of your grade. Chances are, this paper is vital for your success in the class, so treat it as such. Edit this paper until you think you can't edit it anymore, then edit it once more just in case. You'd be surprised how many mistakes you can catch, especially in a long final paper.

3. Use RefMe for works cited page

Works cited pages are so important, but they're beyond annoying to make. I don't think I will ever learn how to write one from memory, and while I normally rely on EasyBib, it's a pain and a half to try find the exact edition of my textbooks, especially ones that are specific to my school. However, with RefMe, you just scan the barcode on the back of your textbook and it creates the citations for you. How cool is that? Saved my butt for my final Media Issues paper this semester, I can tell you that!

When do your finals begin? Do you think you're prepared?

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