First off, I would like to congratulate you for coming this far into your academic curriculum! You are about to take your finals which can be considered the culmination of all that you have learned so far. The road ahead may be a difficult one, however, I am here to help you along as best as I can to ensure that you will be ready for what is ahead of you.
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Cramming is a terrible idea
Over the past couple of months you have been introduced to a variety of topics and concepts which have helped to form the basis of your current academic knowledge on a particular subject.
Trying to cram the entirety of it the day before an exam is extremely foolhardy and will likely result in very little knowledge gained (Hollister & Berenson, 2009).
Over the past couple of months you have been introduced to a variety of topics and concepts which have helped to form the basis of your current academic knowledge on a particular subject. When taking into consideration the sheer amount of time and the various complexities that come with internalizing the knowledge given to you, trying to cram the entirety of it the day before an exam is extremely foolhardy and will likely result in very little knowledge gained (Hollister & Berenson, 2009). Trust me when I say the best possible way of studying a particular subject matter is to go through it over the course of several days. This way, you have enough time to understand and remember the topics given to you.
Create a Study Schedule
- Plan out what you will study and when several weeks before taking your finals.
- DO NOT study multiple subjects in one day.
- Ask your teachers what will most likely appear in your exams.
A proper study schedule is an essential and more often than not overlooked aspect when it comes to preparing for your finals. A lot of people tend to believe that they can cram a semester’s worth of knowledge in just a few days of studying. I assure you, this does not work and often results in low grades. Repetition is the key to being able to understand complex theories and concepts. To do so requires proper studying scheduling. You need to prepare at least 3 weeks before your finals. Set aside certain days for a particular subject and slowly internalize the information. You would be surprised how much easier taking your finals would be if you study several weeks beforehand. Also, do not forget to ask your teachers what will most likely appear in your exams. While they will not give you the exact sections outright, they will at least point you in the right direction. This helps to reduce the amount of time you spend going over the entirety of the lessons taught to you when you can merely concentrate on the parts that are.
Proper Organization is Key to your Success
- Organizing your notes before you study is a necessity when it comes to taking your finals.
- You need to be able to understand the order in which certain lessons have been taught to you.
- More likely than not, that will be the same order that will be utilized in the problems and various questions presented to you.
Organizing your notes before you study is a necessity when it comes to taking your finals. You need to be able to understand the order in which certain lessons have been taught to you since more likely than not, that will be the same order that will be utilized in the problems and various questions presented to you. If possible, I would highly suggest that you photocopy the notes of your seatmates (at least those with legible handwriting) since they may have covered aspects that you may not have covered (Hollister & Berenson, 2009).
- Ask your teachers about concepts that you do not understand.
- Do not be afraid to ask for some time after class for the professor to clarify a particular concept or problem.
- Professors love to teach curious students!
If you were asked to climb down a hole without any rope, you would probably consider such a request to be insane. The same can be said about taking your finals without sufficient clarification regarding concepts you do not understand. Finals were not created to torture students (though some think that they were), rather, they are means of evaluating everything that you have learned thus far in the semester. Being evaluated with an incomplete or even misunderstood set of facts is the same as climbing down a hole without any rope, you do not have any hope of being able to get back out. Your teachers are your rope and, as such, I suggest you use them! Ask if they could help you out after class to clarify certain concepts. They would normally be more than happy to help you out.
Study Groups are Fun! (more or less)
- Studying by yourself invites distraction (especially with the internet).
- You can ask questions and get a meaningful response.
- You will actually look forward to studying!
If a person is reluctant to do something, they will find a way to avoid doing it. This is a universal rule that especially applies to the modern day college student. You have access to a plethora of things to distract you. This can range from the internet to online gaming, to apps on your phone or even simply watching TV. Since studying is, admittedly, boring to a certain extent I am sure more than a few of you will attempt to utilize some form of distraction. This is why I encourage you to study in groups! The more of you there are in an area, the less agonizing studying becomes and the more likely you are to actually study! You can quiz each other, ask to clarify certain things and at the end of the day you will actually look forward to studying!
Use the Internet! (To study)
- The internet can help in providing a simplified approach to understanding complex topics.
- You can find potentially thousands of online articles that can help you in studying.
Visit your Campus Library
There are several advantages to studying in your campus library:
- Its quiet;
- You will not be disturbed;
- Its cold and comfortable inside;
- There are fewer distractions;
- You can easily find a reference book if you need one.
- Studies such as those by Fry (1999)have shown that taking breaks actually helps the process of internalizing information while studying.
- The brain actually learns and internalizes what you read not by the act of looking at a presentation or through the text in a notebook or book (though it is of course necessary)
- It does so through sufficient rest (Fry, 1999).
Studies such as those by Fry (1999)have shown that taking breaks actually helps the process of internalizing information while studying. The brain actually learns and internalizes what you read not by the act of looking at a presentation or through the text in a notebook or book (though it is of course necessary), rather, it does so through sufficient rest (Fry, 1999). By resting after you study, you help your brain to better internalize the information you are studying. This helps to show that trying to cram information the night before you take a test is the worst possible way to study, since your brain has not had enough time to properly rest and internalize information (Fry, 2000).
Rest before the Day of your Exam
- Take a good long rest the day before your finals.
- Do not go to any parties, get drunk or stay up late playing games.
The last piece of advice I will give you regarding your finals is this, take a good long rest the day before your finals. Do not go to any parties, get drunk or stay up late playing games (Minbashian et al., 2004). Just rest, relax and do a brief review of the needed material. You should not stress yourself out the day before you are about take your exam since this will prevent you from sleeping properly and taking your finals while sleepy is a terrible idea.
Be careful of what you eat!
- Do not eat overly heavy meals right before your finals.
- DO NOT eat food which you know causes diarrhea.
- Do not drink sodas or other highly carbonated drinks.
- Drink water but not too much!
- NO ALCOHOL.
I am sure some of you have heard of some horror stories involving students who had diarrhea during their finals. I assure you, a lot of them are true. Failing your finals due to diarrhea is not an acceptable reason for a retest. This is why you need to be careful about what you eat either the day before or right before your finals. Avoid gassy or high fiber food, do not drink highly carbonated drinks and avoid alcohol. Also, drink water but not too much since some exams do not allow their students to go to the bathroom during the test. You can bring a small bottle of water and drink it during your exam. Follow these guidelines and you should be fine. If you do not, take the finals at your own risk.
Preparing the day before your Exam
- Make sure everything you need for your exam is prepared.
- Test all your pens, calculators, etc.
- Check to see if you forgot any requirements.
- Arrange everything in your bag beforehand.
One of the most stressful things in the world is to start your final exam only to find out that:
- Your ball pen is not working;
- Your calculator has no battery life left;
- You forgot an important reference book;
- You forgot some important item or material needed for the test.
This happens more often than you think and, as such, it is highly recommended that you check and prepare everything beforehand since the school is not responsible for providing everything that you need for the exam.
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- This ends our little presentation on passing your finals.
- Please follow all the indicated instructions and above all please keep in mind the statement that can be seen on the left.
- Good luck!
Fry, R. W. (1999). The Great Big Book of How to Study. Franklin Lakes, N.J.: Career Press.
Fry, R. W. (2000). How to Study. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.
Hollister, K. K., & Berenson, M. L. (2009). Proctored Versus Unproctored Online Exams: Studying the Impact of Exam Environment on Student Performance. Decision Sciences Journal Of Innovative Education, 7(1), 271-294.
Minbashian, A., Huon, G. F., & Bird, K. D. (2004). Approaches to studying and academic performance in short-essay exams. Higher Education, 47(2), 161-176.