By Alexandra Smith
Finals week begins on May 5 for Penn State, and is rapidly approaching. With the semester coming to an end, many students find themselves preparing for multiple final exams, all while finishing up projects and homework assignments. It’s definitely a tough balancing act, so here are four tips to help you ace your finals.
First and foremost, try not to procrastinate; waiting to study until the night before an exam is never a good idea. Procrastination causes undue stress, and can lower your GPA very quickly. Make a study schedule based off of your final exam schedule, and study for your first or hardest final first. Review all of your class materials—tests, homework, quizzes, and handouts. Create your own study guide, as this causes you to review the information as you create the study guide, and then review it again each time you look over it. Make sure you have all of your class materials with you as you study, and bring along extra writing utensils so you won’t waste time looking for your notes or a new pen.
Determine your study style
Some students like to study alone, in a quiet place with no distractions, while others thrive in a group setting. Before you begin studying, figure out what situations and places are most conducive to your learning. Do you like to create flashcards and test yourself, or do you enjoy studying in a large group from your class? Do you study well with one other person, or would you rather explain class materials to a roommate or friend who isn’t in your class? Do you do your best studying in the library while listening to music, or do you prefer sitting in a coffee shop with your favorite beverage? Think about what study style and location works best for you and implement it as your exams approach.
Do you have friends who are negative about exams, and actually stress you out when they discuss them? Try to limit your time around these types of people because their stress can be contagious, and you may suddenly find yourself tense and distracted with worry. Don’t be afraid to say no to people or activities that will cut into study time. All of your friends who want to hang out will still be there after finals, so make studying a priority each day before your exams. Deactivate social media accounts, turn off your cell phone, or even block the internet on your computer—do whatever it takes to focus while you study. It’s okay to take breaks, but try to keep them short, around 10 to 15 minutes. Switching subjects every 30 minutes can help break up the material while keeping your attention for longer periods of time, too.
Take care of yourself
The end of the semester can be very stressful, so it’s important to take care of yourself during this time so you can perform your best while under pressure. Make sure you get enough sleep; pulling an all-nighter usually isn’t a good idea because it’s hard to do well on an exam while feeling exhausted, and cramming information at the last minute is an ineffective study habit. Try to get some fresh air and eat healthy foods that will give you energy and make you feel good. Finally, remember to keep everything in perspective. No matter what, an exam is just an exam, and stressing out excessively won’t help you do your best; try to visualize yourself acing your exams and be confident that your studying and hard work all semester will pay off in the end.