Hi everyone hope you are having a great Thanksgiving break! Today I wanted to do a part two to the blog I made last semester about finals and share some more helpful tips. It may feel like it's too early to be thinking about finals, after all classes still have exams before then that we need to worry about, but actually it's not to early at all. I think Thanksgiving Break is the perfect time to get started! So here are some tips and tricks to get you ready.
If you haven't read my first "How to Survive Finals" click here to read it.
1. Change Your Mindset
This idea about changing our mindset is something that I've really been doing this semester and I think it really helps. Even me titling my blog last semester as "surviving finals" was a bad idea because it made it seem as though finals was something we had to suffer through. Having a positive mindset can have real effects, I've learned in the book I read "The Happiness Advantage" that having a positive mind is have a growth mindset. If you tell yourself something is impossible, guess what you're not going to feel motivated to try as hard!
So the first step is for us to stop looking at finals as this week of hell that we have to endure! Let's look at it this way, here are some things you can tell yourself:
We've worked hard all semester and this is our way to show the professor how much we've learned.
I've been doing really well in this class, I know the material, I can do this.
I haven't been doing to well in this class, but here is a great opportunity to go back to material I didn't understand and a way to bring my grade-up.
I feel overwhelmed, but I still have some weeks to prepare, I'm going to make the best of those weeks.
These are just a few examples, something important I hope you noticed is that thinking positively doesn't mean your neglecting the truth! You are acknowledging the challenges in your way but instead of focusing on the fact that it is a challenge you focus on ways to overcome it. I hope you'll try making some positive phrases about finals and send them to me!
2. Make a Study Plan
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you're in the library with several books in front of you and months of material with no where to start, and this is why a study plan is so crucial for success.
What is a study plan? A study plan is a guideline to help you go through all the material that you learned that semester, you can make your plans in a couple different ways such as giving yourself some chapters to focus on per week, detailing out every hour of your study time, or creating tests for yourself or all of the above! You should make a study plan that you know will work best for you, if you struggle with every hour of your day is planned out then don't make that kind of plan! But if you feel that you need structure or else you'll get distracted then maybe it's something you can try. And each subject might require something different! Thanksgiving Break is the perfect time to make your plans, that way when you get back to campus you're ready to rock and roll! I'm making my plans right now, here's a look at what I do:
1. What finals do I need to take?
Organic Chemistry, Orgo Lab, Biology, and French
2. Am I done with material, do I have exams?
Yes I have exams in Orgo and Biology when I get back from break and a speaking test in French.
Since I'm still taking exams I need to focus on that material before I start reviewing so I need to include this in my plan.
3. When am I taking each exam?
First I'm taking Orgo Lab final, then Orgo the next day, I have a whole day to study before my biology exam, and three whole days before my french exam.
Now that I know which exams come first I know what to focus on first! My French Final for example I have all of Saturday once I'm done with my biology exam, and Sunday and Monday, I know that this is enough time for me to study and so I will focus on french during those three days.
4. What do I need to study?
Here's the fun part! Ok, not everyone will find this fun but I do. Now I take all my notebooks, open up a google doc, and make my review guide. I like to use the syllabus as a guide and go through everything that I learned in each class and bullet point them. Next I open up another google doc, and following along with my guide I write questions from myself, taking questions from past exams, worksheets, homework, etc that cover everything we've learned. I've talked about this studying method that I do a lot because it really does work for me! I think active studying helps things click rather than just reading notes, sometimes you read a page and think "Yeah I know this" but you actually don't, asking yourself questions and tackling those questions without looking at your notes really helps, in my opinion!
For classes like organic chemistry, I plan to write out all the reactions that we've gone over and test myself several times on them so that I really know them. Next I will read through my notes for those trick questions and easy mistakes that students make and make a list of those as well. Finally, I've found that for a class like orgo, you can take all the notes in the world and still fail the test. What you really need is practice! So I plan to do past exams and finals exams, problems from the text books, and just lots and lots of practice.
Also if there was a chapter or exam that gave you some trouble you can spend some extra time going over those concepts, so take a look at your grades and how you've performed across the semester to know that you should focus on.
5. Last one- when am I going to study?
Here I use my agenda and write out what I'm focusing on each day. I usually try to switch between my subjects, spending three hours on one subject then switching over to another. This can help you make sure that you're giving all your courses some attention.
Those are my tips for making a study plan, once you make yours be sure to stick to it!
Here are some more tips for finals:
Please, please, please get some sleep!
I've now been in college for a year and a half and I have NEVER pulled an all-nighter, I've barely stayed up past 1:30 am studying. Hey if working up till the crack of dawn works for you then ok, but I really don't suggest if for the night before your exam. You are better of getting sleep and letting the information soak in than cramming, you'll feel better in the morning and have a fresh and rested brain to take you exam.
What if you really need more hours of studying?!? I will usually follow a routine in which I'll wake up early (7 or 8 am), I eat breakfast, shower, relax, and then hit the library and am back in my bedroom around 11pm. That's still a lot of hours of studying without sacrificing sleep time!
Say NO to cramming
Please don't stand in front of the testing room still looking franticly over your notes, as much as wish it happened this way the information doesn't stick that way. Instead the hour leading up to your exam, put the notes AWAY. Get out your headphones and listen to some music that makes you feel good. Grab a healthy snack and then think about 3 things that make you happy. This is another tip from my "Happiness Advantage" novel, study shows that students who had positive thoughts before an exam performed better!
A really good idea is do to 50 minutes of studying followed by a 10 minute break. You can also do 30 minutes of studying followed by a 5 minute break. During your breaks, take a stretch, play a little game on your phone, or chat with friends. Along with these mini-breaks around mid-day I will usually take my longer break to go eat, when I eat I never try to study at the same time, this is when I watch an episode on Netflix or a video on Youtube. Find what works best for you!
Alright guys! These are my tips for this final's season. I tried not to be repetitive so check out my past blog on finals as well as my studying tips blog.
If you have any questions or want some study advice, please message me anytime.