Survival Guide to Finals

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Do everyone a favor, including yourself, and before you continue reading, admit that you have procrastinated and or been somewhat unorganized about preparing for finals. If you have not been a victim of procrastination so far into the semester, then please bestow your superhuman ways upon the rest of us slackers.
As the end of the semester is approaching, it’s easy to be swept away with thoughts surrounding the holiday season and the two-week-long break that I’m sure everyone needs at this point. However, if you strive to do so, there are several measures you can take to either avoid unproductivity or ensure a satisfying grade on your finals and in your classes. Follow this finals survival guide to begin your journey to conquering your semester finals!

Create a Study Schedule
It’s easy to get lost in the big picture and stress of all that needs to be done before finals week. However, if you split your to-do list between several days, it will be easier to keep track of what you have accomplished and will help to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. That said, make sure that once you create a study schedule, you follow it. To motivate yourself to do, I would recommend that on the days you plan to sit down and review, also pencil in a relaxing activity afterward whether it be meeting up with friends or watching a seasonal Hallmark movie. This will be a reward after all of your hard work as well as a safeguard against studying until your brain is numb.

Create Your Own Study Guide(s)
Although most of your teachers will provide a study guide and/or a review sheet, it is more helpful to create your own. To do so, outline information you deem important and necessary from each unit, and then at the end include information from your teacher’s study guide. Making your own study guide forces you to review the semester’s material and reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses within the subject matter. I would also recommend that you create the study guide by hand-written notes because you will retain the information more effectively. This is proven through a study conducted by professors Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University and UCLA.

Color Code Notes
Whether you color-code your own study guide or the notes that you have taken throughout the semester so far, have a systematic approach to how you organize your notes. Perhaps you create a system where you color-code based on the importance of the information or by distinguishing what will be on the exam versus what won’t. Color coding will help you prioritize the information which you need to understand and retain, but at the same time, don’t overdo it and highlight an entire page of notes.

Meet With Teachers
Not only does meeting with your teacher help you review the information that can potentially show up on the exam, but it is also helpful in that it exhibits your drive and initiative to receive a good grade, as well as your understanding of the material. Teachers appreciate students who take the time to work hard with the information they learn in class. Also, it is possible that if a teacher is aware of the hard work you put into studying for a final, it might help to boost your grade in some areas when calculating your final grade for the semester.

Teach Classmates
Learning by teaching is a method that works if put into play. Explaining concepts, definitions and steps to a classmate is a great way to measure your understanding of the material as well as to re-learn it. This also mimics the “killing-two-birds-with-one-stone” scenario as you might help to teach someone else at the same time.

Change Your Study Locations
Don’t plant your butt onto one stool at a Starbucks and plan to crank out all of your studying at that one location. Make sure that you study in various places because it will help to keep you aware of your surroundings and reduce the amount of time you spend in a haze as you keep looking at your notebook with no motivation.Visit a Starbucks one day, then perhaps head to the local library the next as most offer private study rooms and or teen centers for you to complete your work.