Final exams only last for a week or two but when you’re going through them it can seem like a real marathon. Maybe it just seems that way since it’s the end of a long semester, but mainly because there’s so much riding on the outcome. They can magnify the pressure that you have been feeling all semester long, and that makes them seem as if they take a lot longer.
There ways of surviving final exams, and some of them are best done before that dreaded time hits.
Start Review Study Right Now – Cramming is Way Over-rated
Some university students give into the bad habit of cramming. That often seems as if it’s the default setting, especially if you have no other plans. But very few students can pull off cramming successfully, and if you’re one of the majority who can’t, you need a better strategy.
Related: Carving Out More Time to StudyStart doing review study right now. That means organizing and reviewing your notes, and highlighting any areas where you feel especially weak. If you do this in advance, you will have time to clarify areas of confusion and to master areas that you feel uncomfortable with.
If you implement this strategy early enough in the semester, you may find that you only have to spend an hour or two each week reviewing. The advantage is obvious – by beginning review early, you add repetition to the mix, and that reinforces the learning process. By the time final exams hit, you’ll be well prepared and under a lot less stress.
Get Some Study Partners
Having one or more study partners is one of the best ways to prepare for final exams. There are at least two primary advantages to this strategy:
- Study partners keep you focused on studying, and
- You have others to help you in the areas where you are weak.
Study partners provide that extra margin of support that can help you be more successful in your exams. It’s the idea of safety in numbers – more people working toward the same goal ensures greater success across the board.
Just be sure that whoever your partners are they are at least as motivated as you are. The last thing you need to be doing with study partners is to be spending time and effort organizing sessions. Those sessions should happen naturally, providing you with the greatest opportunity to concentrate on the business at hand – studying.
Regularly Review and Refresh What You Already Know Well
While it’s important to use advance preparation to shore up your weak spots, it’s probably more important to regularly review and refresh what you already know well. We’ve already discussed the importance of repetition when it comes to studying, but there are at least four reasons why you want to keep close tabs on studying the course work that you know well:
- You don’t want to forget what you already know, as a result of spending more time and effort studying what you don’t.
- Even if you know subject matter well, you risk forgetting it if you don’t review it.
- The last thing you want is to be taking an exam and seeing a problem or question that you used to know the answer to.
- Being sure of what you do know can give you more confidence to deal with what you don’t.
No matter what the temptation is to concentrate your study time on your weak spots, don’t ever neglect reviewing what is you are sure you already know. Memory can be a slippery thing – especially when you’re taking final exams.
Get Help With What You Don’t Know
If there are any areas of obvious weakness, the best approach may be to get specific help. You can get this through your professor, a tutor, or even a student who is better in the class or course work than you are.
Often, the worst strategy is to try and go it alone. There may be reasons why you can’t master certain concepts or even an entire course. That’s when it’s time to get help! And the sooner you do this, the better. Another person – especially one who is working with you on a one-on-one basis – may be able explain the concept to you in a way that you can understand, but never could during the entire semester.
Even a limited grasp of a concept may enable you to get past an exam question with enough understanding to pass the course exam overall.
Schedule Rest and Relaxation Time
So much of the final exam taking process is psychological. And obviously so much of the psychology relies on your state of mind. Rest and relaxation time will help with this. If you can avoid the tendency to cram, you’ll have the time you need both during the exams, and in the days leading up to them.
It’s important to approach your exams with a clear head. If your mind is filled up with stress, you may even forget answers to questions that you truly know. Stress can cause the mind to be filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Rest and relaxation minimizes stress, and leaves you better prepared for your finals. R&R time is a necessity at final exam time.
What strategies do you use to help you survive final exams?