Preparing for Final Exams

In exams on May 22, 2009 at 10:00 am


It’s the time in the season for final exams. As each of your classes winds to a close for the summer, you’ll have papers due, projects to present, and tests to take. At my school, students are walking around with wrinkled brows and large cans of Monster energy drinks. Everyone looks so tired! It’s important right now to study strategically, to get the best results without running yourself ragged.

Here are a few basic reminders that might help you make it through the next couple of weeks:

  • Find a comfortable place to study. Not everyone studies best in the library or at home. You might work well at a coffee shop or outside in a park. When I was an undergraduate (and taking lots of tests), I used to make note cards and carry them with me on walks. I’d study as I walked. Find a comfortable place where you can concentrate without distractions.
  • Don’t study for 12 hours straight. Marathon study sessions aren’t always the best. At a certain point, your brain will get tired and give up for the day. Instead, start studying early, and do a little bit each day. If you’re memorizing information for tests, the daily reinforcement of the information will make memorization happen more quickly and easily.
  • Eat and sleep regularly. Often, students (especially hardworking international students) will stop eating or sleeping while preparing for tests, but I don’t think this is a good idea. Energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster do not make up for lost sleep, and you’ll be sharper once test-time comes if you’re rested and well-fed.
  • Instead of trying to memorize everything you remember happening in class in the past 16 weeks, try to remember what your teacher repeated most in class. What did she emphasize in class discussions? What did she keep writing on the board? What did she seem to think was especially important? Study this information first, and you’re likely to have studied what will be on the test.
  • Study time well spent is all about focus. Focus on what’s most important, and practice it until you feel confident with it.

Good luck, as you go into finals week!

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Unclutterer had a post this week about how to discover your learning style—and how to use your learning style to help you get things done and stay organized. A visual learner, for example, might use the cell phone camera to take photos of things she wants to remember, while an auditory learner might record voice reminders for himself to listen to later. Check out the posts to find out your learning style.


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