“What? My final is tomorrow??”
Know that one college student who cracks open a textbook for the first time on the same day of a final exam and tries to memorize its contents in the increasing moments of doomsday?
Try not to point any fingers.
Although cramming seems to be the preferred way of studying among many college students today, poor results and common sense shows that is a recipe for disaster.
If students have been failing their final exams due to their lackadaisical study skills, then they need to fear no more, for the study guru is about to unleash his knowledge on their mortal souls.
It’s time to start preparing for the finals by setting up a study plan. This task already seems to be overwhelming to that lethargic student, probably scaring him/her away back into their desolate basements.
But setting up a study plan is simple. So grab a few note cards and take note on how to really take notes.
The best way to study for a final exam (or any exam) is to take notes in class and to summarize them as the lecture is still going on. This makes note-taking an active process, rather than just copying things into a notebook without fully comprehending them. Doodling in class doesn’t count.
The second step of the study plan is to revise notes, organize them and then fully understand them.
Then, develop an outline of the important topics that will be covered. If you don’t know what they are, then ask the instructor. If you still don’t know what they are, then ask another student. If you still don’t know by then, think about starting up a study group.
Starting a study group is easy. First, propose your plan to a group of students and make the goal of the group clear. Then, set up a schedule of the times to meet. Finally, establish expectations that the people in the group are expected to meet by the end of each session.
However, keep in mind that people who join study groups (or start them) are sometimes slackers who only join (or start) them so that other people can give the information they need on tests.
Don’t be one of these people.
The purpose of a study group is to contribute in it for the benefit of the group, not to slack off for the benefit of oneself.
Whether in a group or not, an outline of the notes is essential. Organize what’s important and what’s not.
The topics of lesser importance (things that might not be on a test) should not be studied as much as the topics that will definitely be on the test. Prioritize and maximize study time.
Now that everything is well-organized and outlined, it’s time to store away the notes until one day before the finals, right?
A common mistake by college students is to procrastinate as long as possible while inducing as much stress as possible.
It’s important to study for exams long before the actual exam. Develop a study schedule and stick to it. The study schedule should allot study time a couple hours a day throughout the week and allow time for breaks.
Don’t cram for an exam. Trying to study for multiple subjects on the same day and at the same time is just too much of an overload. More hours should be spent on the subjects that are harder and less time should be spent on classes that are not as challenging.
Now that enough time has been scheduled for studying, and the notes for the test are organized, it’s time to actually spend time memorizing and understanding notes. This is perhaps the hardest part for most students.
Stay away from all distractions. Cover your windows with thick blankets; tell your friends that you’ve been deported and won’t return for two weeks and make sure to unplug your mind from all media outlets. Try to stay focused on what’s really important.
Believe it or not, an important aspect in the studying process is to eat healthy and be well-rested. Ingesting oneself with caffeine and staying up at 3 a.m. to cram can mean your academic demise.
Here is some food for thought, literally: milk, pasta and bread contain vitamin B2 (riboflavin),which has been proven to improve memory. Also, iron improves energy, which can be found in green vegetables, peanut butter and meat.
Furthermore, finding time to sleep can be difficult with our crazy-busy lives. Get a minimum of 16 hours a sleep – every two days. Give the brain a chance to relax and chill.
With the final examinations around the corner, it is imperative to plan for them as soon as possible. Now, let’s summarize the study plan:
Step one: summarize notes as the lecture is in progress.
Step two: revise and organize notes in the form of a detailed outline.
Step three: schedule study time well in advance of the test date.
Step four: study in a distraction-free zone.
Step five: get plenty of rest and eat healthy before the finals.
And remember: while books do make great doorstops, they make even better study aids.