Monday, November 30, 2015

Finals Week Life & Study Tips


It pains me to say this, but there is only one week left until finals. For me, at least. Regardless, I'm sure finals are creeping up on everyone within the next couple of weeks and it's leaving a sour taste in my mouth. It's a weird conflicting feeling where you want the end of the semester to end, but you also don't want to go through the pain of the homestretch. I, personally, am dreading the next eight days and would be more than happy to zoom through them. However, that is not possible, and I must spend the next week or two putting in quadruple the work to make sure everything turns out the way I want it do. While this isn't my first time at the rodeo, finals week still comes in like a wrecking ball at the end of the semester. Over my first two years of college, I've picked up a few tips here and there that have been able to help me cope with and get through the struggle of the week before finals and finals week. Not everything will work for everyone, but it's always worth a try.

1. Eat breakfast/lunch/dinner

Try to stay on a regular eating schedule, even if you're dedicating all of your time between classes and free time to studying. You need to nourish yourself, truly, to ensure that you'll be healthy and focused all week. There's not point in trying to study through a growling stomach. You won't be focused! Stay hydrated as well! Keep a reusable water bottle by your side through it all!

2. Sleep and power nap

For the love of god, get some sleep. This is rich coming from someone who doesn't nap and prefers to stay up late and wake up early, but pulling all-nighters isn't good for your health and it is possible to succeed without them! It's all about better time management and making room in your schedule for necessary things like eating and sleeping.

3. Keep yourself focused

Easier said than done, I realize, but keeping your main focus on schoolwork during the period of finals is incredibly important. It's only a week to a two week period of time in which you dedicate most of it to schoolwork. While it's not entirely plausible to dedicate all of your time to it because of things like work, you might have to push some other things aside in order to truly give yourself to studying or your projects. But then think about it this way: once you're done with the project or finish writing your exam, you're done! You have all of that free time for winter break to do the things you might have missed out on during your finals preparation and finals week.

4. Know when to take your breaks

Now, despite needing to stay well-focused, you also have to know when you're overworking yourself. Don't drive yourself into the ground trying to focus on something when you've been slaving over it for hours. You're allowed a break or two or ten for yourself, depending on how many you need to feel like you again. If you're going to take a break, give yourself some sort of limit so you don't drift away and detach yourself from your work completely. Set a timer, give yourself a one to two episode limit on Netflix, five videos on Youtube, etc. You still have to relax! The constant high stress of finals week isn't good for you, even if it is temporary!

5. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite

This is my biggest study tip and one of the only things I use now. Only one of my classes this semester had exams (the rest are all writing classes) and I think I had forgotten how to study because of it. I would fill out the study guide and stare at it and wonder how I was going to make sense of all of the information in front of me. So, I wrote out the study guide, filled in what I knew in one color and then went through and filled in the rest (shorthand, or an abbreviated version to get the gist of the definitions). Then, I did it again and again until I got to the point where I could fill in the whole study guide with one color. Yes, it's a bit of a pain, and yes it can be time consuming, but it's my foolproof way of making sure I retain the information. If you have a longer study guide, I recommend using a web version for this to avoid rewriting over and over again, but generally mine are shorter and it's not too much of a hassle.

6. Buddy up

No matter how good your notes are and how much you focus during classes, there are going to be times where you miss something or that you don't hear something as clearly as a classmate does. You might not have the same perspective on something you learned or have different examples written down. If you buddy up and collaborate with a classmate or two, you can really maximize the amount of information you have in front of you. You can bounce ideas off of each other, verbally quiz each other, or even just talking about the material helps you retain it. There is strength in numbers!

7. Put it into your own words

Another study tip, adapted from my friend's method. She has current event quizzes in one of her classes and rather than just reading off of headlines and studying off of various articles, she creates her own list of current events. But, instead of using somewhat stale and straight forward headlines, she creates her own and adds in a bit of humor. The news is still there, the important pieces are still noted, but there's an entertaining twist that makes studying not only somewhat funnier, but then it gives you a pun or punchline to remember. Now, I'm not saying you need to make everything funny, but even just rewriting something into simpler terms or into terms that you understand better can make the studying process easier.

8. Don't give up

It's really easy to be working on a project or be in the middle of studying and just want to slouch down or plop into your bed and ignore your responsibilities. I know this will be me dozens upon dozens of times this week, but you just have to push through it. Studying sucks. Finals are the worst. The stress at this time of the year is so high that giving up seems like the most viable option 99% of the time. Don't let it win! As I said earlier, once the week-two week period is over, you have time to breathe again. Just power through it because brighter days are on the other side.

What is your biggest struggle during finals week?

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