Study Tips

Surviving Finals

Preparing for final exams can be an overwhelming process often characterized by disorganized mountains of notes, misplaced stacks of review sheets, and displaced highlighters galore. No wonder studying is stressful after reading over more seizure-bright yellow than useful information!

Study tips are all around us, stressing that we avoid stress and get enough sleep. At the same time, you shouldn’t be too relaxed on the morning of the test because its outcome will determine every aspect of your future and success. But what do we really need to know?

As most of us are already familiar, there are several simple strategies that, when used appropriately, can be semi-likely to improve your grade- slightly. When you don’t know the answer to a multiple choice question, pick C. It’s the most common letter used for correct answers… or was that A? And remember: i before e except after c (unless it is one of several exceptions in which case spell it as awkwardly as possible). Ultimately these “study tips” turn out to be more useless information to cram into our over-stuffed brains. Here are a few ideas you might actually use in the final days before a big exam:

1. Create one-pagers for each class. Condense your notes from each class onto single pages. This way, the important information is readily available to look over during breakfast, while getting dressed, or right before the exam.
2. Stick to a decent sleep schedule. Getting enough sleep is crucial to absorbing information and functioning well under stress. Aim for at least seven hours a night.
3. Take breaks. While cramming might seem like the best option right before the big test, don’t forget to spare 15 minutes every few hours or so for a brisk walk or mental breather. Clearing your head occasionally will actually make the most of your time spent studying.

And during the exam?

1. Take your time. More often than not, you will have plenty of time to complete a test if you pace yourself wisely. If a question is too difficult, make a note in to margins to come back to it later.
2. Check over your answers. If you finish ahead of time, spend it looking over the test instead of looking at the clock.
3. It’s okay to have some anxiety. Stress is important in some life-threatening situations like being mauled by a bear, hit by a car, or in this case, taking the midterm for organic chemistry.
4. Remember to breath. If you need a moment to regain your nerves, take a deep breath into the pit of your stomach. Hold this breath for about five seconds before exhaling through the mouth, squeezing all the air out. Repeat this exercise a few times or until a calm feeling is achieved.

Most importantly remember this: it isn’t the end of the world! Best chances are that if you’ve listened in class and paid some attention to your homework over the semester, you will do fine on the final. If not, one bombed exam won’t result in your own personal apocalypse. Never fear as a promising future still awaits you at Macdonald’s or in local politics. Good luck.