You’re back from Thanksgiving Break, looking at 2 weeks before finals are over.
Everywhere you go, you hear Christmas music, and you can almost taste those Christmas cookies.
How can you make sure you finish your semester off on a sweet note?
Crush those finals.
Here are a few tips for how to ensure success, and happiness, during those days that make you miss your bed and mom’s pancakes.
1) Compile Notes
Something that may seem evident to everyone, but is invaluable nonetheless, is making sure that you have all of your notes organized before tackling a study schedule. Obviously it’s important for organizational reasons, but it has more significance than helping you keep your study flow going. It helps you maintain confidence over your study materials, knowing that you have the resources you need at your fingertips–all you need to do is sit down and focus. But what do you do if you have a gap in your notes or your understanding of a concept? Keep reading to find out!
2) Review Exams and Quizzes
Your professors give you tests and quizzes throughout the semester to gauge your understanding of material taught in class, right? So why waste such a simple and effective resource? Professors hold office hours during the weeks leading up to your finals, so make sure you take advantage of their willingness to serve! Utilize these great opportunities to learn more about the material and discuss the topics with your professors.
3) Review Confusing Topics
Another great perk of office hours is that you can go in and ask your professors questions about anything you may have missed on exams. Compile a list of concepts that confuse you, and then reference your textbooks, other resources, but most importantly, your professors! They’ve earned those Ph.D’s for a reason, and they are excited when students are equally as passionate about succeeding in their subject matter.
4) Group Review Sessions
After you’ve compiled all of your notes, reviewed past exams and quizzes to understand the content you may be less familiar with, and spoken with your professors about confusing topics, it might benefit you to meet with other people to review. Note: group discussion can be distracting for some people. Sometimes what turns out to be a quick review session turns into several hours wasted, so make sure you’re being a good steward of your time–and of other people’s! Meeting with other people to see their points of view on certain topics can be enlightening, and often times, people explain and understand concepts in unique ways!
5) Maximize Study Time
Alright, I know that studying on your bed at 10 pm sounds like a peaceful idea. But trust me, it’s a recipe for disaster. One of the best ways you can help yourself is by setting yourself up for success. By paying attention to what times of the day, what places you seem to get most of your work completed efficiently, and what kind of surrounding location you need in order to work well, you can significantly maximize your study time, which will ultimately make you feel like a champ! You worked hard and efficiently, and now you can cross one more thing off of that list! If you’re interested, Bryan Thomas, a senior at Grove City College, recently wrote this article about how to maximize your productivity and ensure success!
6) Take Breaks
As referenced in the article above, it can be tempting for us to work in environments that aren’t always conducive to productivity and success. So often we get distracted by our phones or checking Facebook for the 5th time in the past hour. Taking breaks are so important when it comes to studying–especially for finals! Pacing yourself is crucial so you don’t wear yourself out, but it’s important to take breaks that are actually beneficial. As THIS University of Minnesota article states, exercise is an important and effective reliever of stress! Now, I pretend to love running just as much as the next college kid, but let’s be honest–sometimes that isn’t always practical (or maybe we just don’t want it to be?). Go for a walk. Talk with some friends for a bit. Play a quick game of basketball. Throw around a frisbee. Basically, do anything but sit and stare at your computer for another 20-30 minutes–your body and your brain will thank you!
Truly, guys, this one is important. If I couldn’t recommend anything else, it would be to manage your time wisely enough so that you sleep well each night, as The University of Minnesota article highlighted. Something that can be so accurate in college, especially during finals seasons, is that students prioritize their academics over personal care. Finals week, for lack of a better expression, is a marathon, not a sprint. And watch out for all-nighters–they hit you harder the second day.
8) Eat a Balanced Meal Before Exams
Obviously being well fed is important in studying and retaining information (and feeling “good” throughout the week!). If you want to reach for the popcorn and chips while you’re studying one evening, that’s okay, but remember how important it is to remain healthy during finals! The cafeterias always have apples, bananas, and other alternative options to french fries and ice cream. And this is especially important before taking an exam. Making sure that you are properly preparing your brain to sit through a two-hour-long exam is crucial. Do you ever feel that sugar rush plummeting in class right after lunch? Try to combat the sleepiness by backing off of the purely sugar and carb options before taking your exam, and allowing your brain to have the proper nutrients to recall a semester’s worth of knowledge!
9) Re-center Yourself
No matter where you are right now on your spiritual walk, it is always important to remember what is most important in this world. In the gospel according to John, Jesus reminds us of this truth:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33
God ordained that Jesus Christ would die on the cross and free us from all types of sin that so easily ensnares us. He would take the sins of an entire world, and die in our place. And He overcame. Ultimately, that is what matters. Truly, your exams are important. God has a plan, and it surpasses any understanding we could have, or any design we could have. It is important to pursue the calling that God sets before us, and to do it passionately. The Sovereign Lord will carry you through the times of stress and struggle, but He has called us from a life of worry and enslavement to fear or worldly expectations, to something higher. Your salvation is not dependent upon your performance on your exams.
So when you’re feeling tired, overwhelmed with information, and concerned about your personal hygiene habits over the past few days (when was the last time I showered, again?), just remember to give yourself enough time to be successful, that God is with you, and you will be home, sweet, home soon.
** Photo Credit
Grove City College senior Machaela Irving has spent the past few years excelling here as a Communication Studies major. Finals Week is often the most stressful time of the year for college students at any school but Machaela has some great advice and tips to share during this time of year. From Newtown, PA, Machaela offers this piece of wisdom for deciding on colleges: “I wish someone had encouraged me to pray about my decision more. Following the Lord’s will and listening to Him is always better than trying to figure it out on your own!”