Thursday, December 10, 2015

Getting through Finals

As the semester draws closer to the end, we all find ourselves packing and getting ready to go home for the holidays, but there is one thing that is standing in our way: Finals. In the next week I have a couple tests to take and some projects to turn in before I am free for almost an entire month! If you're thinking about how you are going to survive through the next week or so, you have come to the right blog post. I have compiled a list of 10 tips & tricks that you can follow to make it through finals without having a mental break down.

#1: Dig out your syllabus

Remember that packet you received on the first day of class? You know the one that the teacher spent an entire hour going over it's importance, but you decided to tune it out? Yup, that's the one. 9 times out of 10, the teacher will include a calendar of what topics you'll cover over the semester and important things that will be mentioned. The syllabus is a great tool when trying to remember what you learned those first couple of weeks. Not only does it outline the topics, it will often tell you information regarding the final: What to bring, what to expect, how it will effect your grade, etc.

#2: Study with your friends or classmates
I find it easier to study with a group of people. You can bounce ideas back and forth and hear from other people and how they interpreted/understand the material. It's also great if people wrote down other notes than you or if you missed something and someone else wrote it down. This was especially helpful for myself when I took a Philosophy class. The atmosphere is a lot lighter if you find yourself with other people who are studying the same topic, and if you have questions you can ask the group. I think that groups can be a great tool but can also be a distraction if you fall off course from the study session, so be careful and study with the right people to keep you on task.

#3: Take breaks
Don't study for hours upon hours without moving from your spot. I suggest studying for 50 minutes then taking a 10-20 minute break. Get up, move around, use the restroom, grab something to eat. Then come back and study for another 50 minutes and repeat the process until you feel like you got a good session in. I would only do this for around 3, maybe 4, hours a day, but you can do more or less. Don't push yourself too much. Listen to your body and remember to allow yourself time to relax and do other things.

#4: Don't procrastinate
Kind of an obvious one but I am guilty of waiting until the last minute to look over notes or complete a project. I suggest starting to look at your notes from the entire semester like last week. You can break it up into sections if you'd like, or take it day by day. 

#5: Use different colored pens & highlighters
This will help you identify important parts of the notes. I use different colored pens when it comes to vocabulary; this way it highlights the main focus and then breaks it down afterwards. Using pens is a great way to show steps in math, especially graphing. Overall, I think using different colors will help you stay focused and make it more exciting since everything isn't all black and white.

#6: Listen to music
I find that having some background noise helps me concentrate a bit better. I suggest listening to the Hans Zimmer list on Pandora or any nature sound station on either Pandora or Spotify. You can use any music app or website that you enjoy, but I highly recommend the music to be instrumental; this keeps you from humming/singing along if you recognize the track. It also keeps you relaxed and focused.

#7: Get plenty of sleep
Although we tend to stay up just before the sun rises to cram in extra studying, let me tell you that it is not worth it. I recommend going to bed around midnight and waking up around 8am. You'll get in your 8 hours of beauty rest and feel refreshed and more focused to study. If you don't get enough sleep your body won't function properly and your brain won't retain information as easily. I try to get to bed around 10:30-11pm so that my sleep schedule stays on track and won't throw my body off. 

#8 Drink lots of water 
You definitely want to stay hydrated throughout the day. This will help you stay alert and focused. You will be able to remember information better and won't be as tired.

#9: Make sure you EAT
Believe it or not, I sometimes forget to eat. I start my day off in the morning and get so distracted that I miss lunch and before I know it, it's going on 5 o'clock and I haven't even thought about dinner. I recommend preparing snacks that you can nibble on throughout the day to make it easier to remember. I know for myself, if I do look up from the clock and realize that I should eat, I take a trip to the kitchen, open up all of my cupboards and the fridge about 3 times before giving up and sitting back down. In this situation, it would be a good idea to cut up some fruit, prepare yourself a sandwich, or grab a handful of almonds.

#10: Breathe
Don't stress out about the final.. Sure this could make or break your grade; something you'll been working on for 3 entire months, but there's nothing to worry about. Honestly though, you'll remember a lot more than you think and you need to stay positive & breathe; everything will be okay.

To end this blog post I'd also like to leave you all with a trick that I'm sure you've probably heard about but never given it much thought; Chew mint gum while you are studying, and then again while you are taking the actual test.. it will help you remember what you were studying during those sessions you've been doing for the past week or so.

I know this post is basically last minute and I'm sorry, but it's better late than never! I hope you all do well on your final exams! Just hang in there, you've almost made it.. give it one final push! 

Much Love! Xx  

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