Thursday, December 1, 2011

Finals Week Survival Guide

Written by Laura McGehee, Marketing Intern

Preparing for Finals
1. Stay healthy- just because you are face down in a book doesn't mean you should sacrifice your health.  Stick to healthy meals and hit the gym.  Exercising not only wakes you up but releases endorphins that make you happy.
2. Don't wait until the last minute- start studying as soon as you can.  The more you spread it out, the less likely you will be pulling an all-nighter, cramming information.  It is better not only for long term memory but will keep you less stressed during the studying process. 
3. Plan it out- create a studying schedule you know you can stick to. Leave some time for yourself and spread out your topics.  Figure out which exams you will need to spend more time on and allocate wisely.
4. Choose your study group wisely- if you know you study best by yourself, don't give in to studying with friends who may make your studying counterproductive.  If you do decide to study with others, make sure you are all on the same page as far as getting items accomplished and staying on task.
5. Take breaks- it's not realistic to think you will study a week with no break.  Plan meals with friends for just half an hour to sit and chat.  It will clear your mind and help you feel better about spending so much time studying.
6. Do what works best for you- if you know studying a certain way (for example making flashcards or a study guide) has proved to work well on past tests, stick to that method. 
7. Consult classmates and professors- make sure you have all then study materials you need and do a quick run through of everything on the test.  If the teacher has given you a study guide, USE IT! If the teacher offers a review session, ATTEND!  Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions- some professors provide extended office hours during finals week.
8. Check exam times and know what to bring- the last thing you want to do is miss your final so, double check the time and location of your final. Also, check to see if you need a Scantron, Blue book, etc. Bring extra pens and pencils and extra batteries if you have a calculator.
9. Find out the type of exam- Preparing for a multiple choice exam is much different than preparing for an essay based exam.  Teachers are usually willing to divulge the format of the test, so use that information to your advantage. If the exam is online or open-book, you still need to prepare! Sometimes these exams are much more difficult.
10. Give it your all- hang in there because the semester is almost over.  Don't leave any chance for a bad grade and try your hardest to make this your best test yet.  If the test is cumulative, don’t overestimate how much you will remember come test time.  Take the time to go through all the necessary materials and, as badly as you want to, don’t rush.
11. Sleep and remember to breathe- if you manage your time well, you should have time to get in your 8 hours.  Drink coffee when you need it but remember that appropriate amounts of sleep affect your productivity levels.  Stress can cause sleepless nights, so try breathing exercises or mediation to clear your mind before bedtime.
During the Final
1. For a paper-based exam, read through the entire final exam before you start answering any questions at all. This way, you will know what you’re facing and can determine the best starting point. Some students benefit from answering the most difficult questions first, while others do better completing all the easier ones. Do what works for you.
2. If the final is an online exam, find out if you can revisit questions, or if after you click past a question you cannot go back to it again.  Be careful and allot your time wisely for timed exams.
3. If you’re using a Scantron and you skip a question to finish later, make sure you lightly note to go back.  Messing up the question order on a Scantron can be detrimental so be extra careful.
4. Keep a close eye on the time you have allotted. If you have a watch, wear it! Some classrooms may not have a clock or one that is working correctly, so better safe than sorry.
After the Final
1. Let it go! If you did your best, there is nothing more you can do. The exam is over so no use rooting through notes to see if you remember any of the questions to double check yourself.
2. Take a breath, relax, and then move on to the next final.  Give yourself a reward- it may boost your confidence and motivation for the next exam.
3. Do not share with other students what was on the final exam. This could not only get you in trouble, but it may also ruin your chances of getting a curve.
4. Once grades are posted, if you aren’t satisfied, see what you did wrong so you can learn from your mistakes- you still have the option to email a professor or stop into his/her office to look at your test.

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