Making the grade: surviving college finals


I know many of you are already planning your Thanksgiving breaks and even looking ahead to the end of the semester. However, this time of year also ushers in the beginning of final exams and deadlines for your final projects and papers. So, before you sit down to mom’s turkey dinner, be sure to set aside some time to get prepared for finals. Here are some great tips to help get you organized and hopefully keep your stress levels to a minimum.

What’s Your Agenda?

If you haven’t already invested in a personal planner or an agenda, be sure to get one ASAP. You’ll need to mark down all your exam dates and times, any due dates for papers and projects and check for any conflicts. If you have a job, now’s the time to speak to your employer about possibly changing your work schedule to accommodate your final exams.

Mix Things Up.

Schedule study sessions over one- to two-hour periods throughout the day and shuffle subjects to avoid burning out.  Start with the subject that has the earliest test date or due date for a paper/project; nothing is worse than waiting until the last minute and then trying to crank out a 10- to 12-page paper the night before it is due.

Give Yourself a Break!

To avoid getting stressed out during your study sessions, take frequent breaks. Go for a short run or walk, unwind with some music or TV, and just get away for a few minutes and allow yourself time to breathe. Make sure you are eating properly, taking in plenty of fluids, proteins, fiber and other nutrients that help increase your energy and mental alertness. Get plenty of rest by taking short naps and keeping a regular sleep schedule. Pulling an all-nighter during exams will do you no good if you can’t stay awake during the test.

Be Prepared.

Find out what items you may need for your exams, such as calculators, Blue Books or Scantrons, and have plenty of pens or pencils on hand. Stop by the Student Government offices, as they may offer exam items to students for free during finals.

Know Your Learning Style.

Do you know your learning style? You should because it can make a difference in the effectiveness of your study habits. If you are a visual learner, you may benefit from making note cards or making an outline to help you focus. Audio learners may want to record notes or use podcasts to help reinforce materials. No style is right or wrong; simply find what works best for you and your particular learning style.

Double-Check Everything!

Review all your work before submitting it. Have a friend or tutor look over your papers for spelling and grammatical errors, as it may be difficult for you to find errors after investing so much time on a project or paper. Also, it’s important to review guidelines and/or rubrics set forth for your final papers/projects to ensure you have met all requirements and followed proper formatting rules.

Studying for finals is something most students don’t look forward to in college. It often helps to get a study-buddy or join a study group to help review materials, quiz each other and share ideas. However, it’s important that you do not copy, borrow or submit other students’ work as your own. Some students find themselves in a bind and the temptation to cheat may be overwhelming. Avoid this situation by preparing now for your final exams and projects. By implementing a well-designed study plan, you’ll reduce your stress and find yourself on the road to final exam success!


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