Finals week is the scariest week of the semester for many students, but it doesn’t have to be. It all comes down to study habits. Take a moment to determine the wheres, whats and hows that work best for you, and use those answers to create the perfect plan to ace finals and get rid of test anxiety.
Where to Cram
Studying can be difficult. If distractions are your biggest problem, take advantage of the endless places to study on campus. The library, the Union, niches in almost every building and even the grounds are great places to find quiet study areas.
It’s easy to book library study rooms for your group study sessions. Rooms can be booked up to 10 days in advance by reserving them online or in person at the entrance desks or Knowledge Commons. Other areas of the library are dedicated quiet areas, like the Reading Room on the third floor or anywhere people aren’t talking. The best part is that the library is open 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Thursday of finals week so you can pull those late nights. Take advantage of the valuable aid available through the Writing Center and library tutors. They can help explain everything from math formulas to proper grammar.
For a change of scenery, take a computer, some textbooks or notes to the Union. The Union is great for quiet study after 3 p.m. It is bright, airy and minimalistic. The clean lines of the building and understated wall art are great for focusing.
Weather permitting, take everything outside. The fountain may not be a great place to study while construction is underway and when it’s cold, but when the weather warms and the construction ends, the grassy lawns and shady slopes scattered throughout campus are beautiful places to hit the books.
What to Pinpoint
While many professors are kind enough to offer a study guide or an overview of what to expect from the test, it isn’t always easy to figure out where to start. Start by taking a look at your notes or the study guide itself. Do a quick review to iron out where you’re having a hard time understanding the material. Finding that snag is the most helpful way to direct studying, because it’ll show you exactly what to study. Focus on the material you don’t understand, and know what will be on the test. If your professor or TA offers study sessions, use the opportunity to ask questions and solidify your understanding.
How to Study
You’ve got your notes, you’ve figured out what you need to study and now you’re stuck. Try making flashcards, diagrams, outlines or just writing out the information. As you write, your brain will evaluate and organize the information, creating a spatial and verbal link which cements the information in your mind. For a more fun way to study, play Jeopardy or trivia-based games with your notes.
Study groups are a great way to make studying a little easier and more fun. Other group members can also help you understand where you’re going wrong. Since everyone’s brains work differently, a member of your group may be able to teach you and other members of your group how to solve a problem or explain a theory more easily.
Don’t study on an empty stomach. Bring crisp veggies, hummus, nuts, yogurt or gummy bears for delicious snacks that won’t melt over your textbooks. Munching gummy worms and chewing gum helps your brain focus. Drinking water, fruit juices and other semi-sweet drinks, like lemonade, can help your brain focus after studying for long periods of time. They’re full of nutrients and antioxidants that will boost your energy to keep you going.
At the end of the day when you’ve done all the studying you can, take some time to unwind. One of the best ways to do this is by cuddling a furry friend. Pets can help reduce the level of stress. Stop by a dog park, a shelter, a pet store or stop by a cat cafe to drink cocoa with a fluffy feline.