PSSC’s Declassified Finals Survival Guide

The semester is finally winding down. You have seen the sun more in the past week than you have in the past 5 months. Everyone is hammocking and soaking up the balmy 60 degree weather. With this first taste of spring, the last thing anyone wants to do is study. On the other hand, finals are fast-approaching.

So how can you tap into that last bit of motivation, while still tending to your spring fever? Luckily, we have some tips to make studying for finals a little more bearable.

1. Get Organized

The most important part of creating a low-stress finals week is by being organized. Make a study schedule, compile all of your notes and old exams, and review what material will be covered. Chances are you have already made some study tools for past exams: if your exams are cumulative, make sure to take advantage of them. Don’t minimize the importance of study breaks and study snacks, either. Plan ahead to see what kinds of study break events are going on around campus. Puppies, free cookies, massages: the options are endless!

2. Be Realistic

It is vital to know your studying limits when it comes to finals week. Some people can study for hours on end, while others need to take breaks every hour. No matter what your study style, make sure you are realistic with your time. One strategy that I like to use is penciling in double the amount of time I think it will take me to study. That way if I am constantly checking my phone, or get distracted by a friend, I am still on track to get my studying done on time. If you do find yourself low on time, be realistic about which classes you really need to study for. Take a few deep breaths, and try to understand as much material as thoroughly as possible. In my experience it is better to have studied less material, but understand it more thoroughly.

3. Eat and Sleep

Everyone always says to get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast before taking an exam. This is really good advice, but it is also subjective to you. If you know you can function on 4 hours of sleep and coffee, then go for it. If you usually don’t eat a meal until noon, it’s probably not necessary to eat a 5-course breakfast before your 8 A.M. exam. Just try to keep your schedule as routine as possible, and you will do great!

4. Review Old Material, Then Practice

A good way to maximize your study time is to review the material first, and then hit the practice exams. Some ways to review old material are going over lecture notes, study guides, reading the book, or watching Khan Academy/other instructional videos on the internet. Go over the stuff you don’t know as well, and then review everything else. After reviewing the material, make sure to practice remembering it or applying it. This will give you an idea of how prepared you are, and if you truly understand what you reviewed. Some ways to do this are by doing practice exams, going through flashcards, having a friend quiz you, or simply quizzing yourself. The key to success on exams is to understand the material, remember it, and know how to apply it!

5. Be Confident

The most significant tip to succeeding on exams is to just be confident. Even if you feel unprepared, you have been in class for the past 16 weeks: you know more than you think. Pretend that you are an expert on the topic, and trust your instincts. Think of each question you answer correctly as a point you gained, rather than focusing on the questions you think you got wrong. Try to relax, and remember that exams are a way for you to show what you learned in class.

No matter how poorly or how well exam season goes, you will get through it! Study hard, keep a positive attitude, and everything will fall into place. Good luck!!