Finals Week. The name alone can spark fear in the hearts of even among the best and brightest college students (JHU). Suddenly everything you've spent months learning has been crammed into one short little exam that often weighs heavily on your final grade. It's very easy to get caught up in the stress of exam week. All-nighters, cramming, and marathon study groups may seem like the only way to survive. But there are ways to succeed without wearing yourself out. Here are some helpful study hints:
•Don't cram: it is usually associated with lower academic achievement and higher stress. It also does not promote long term memory. Instead, keep a steady schedule of studying and take breaks to allow your brain to process what you have learned.
•Organize: keeping facts in logical patterns as you study makes retrieval easier when it comes time to answer test questions.
•Repeat: repetition increases learning and retention. Review your material at regular intervals, not just all at once. Flash cards are an excellent tool that allow you to review your material regularly in an organized manner.
•Vary your techniques: utilizing different learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) strengthens learning because the information is received in different ways. Try reading your notes, saying your notes, and copying your notes as you study.
•Follow a pattern: pre-read, make notes, review your notes, and self-test. These techniques have been found to not only increase learning, but also long-term retention of the material.
•Breathe: an estimated 15-20% of college students experience lower grades due to text anxiety. Instead of spending the 15 minutes before an exam to cram in information you will most likely forget, spend it mentally preparing for the exam. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and tell yourself some encouraging words. You CAN do this!
As finals week comes to a close, be sure to rest, eat healthfully, and get some exercise to keep your mind and body healthy. It will all be over soon. Come some time next week, you are free to enjoy your summer vacation and prepare for your next academic adventure. Best of luck!
(Tips referenced from Study Without Stress: Mastering Medical Sciences by Eugenia G. Kelman and Kathleen C. Straker )