I finished finals Friday, but I know many of you are just about to get started. Here are some tips that help me finish out the semester and stay (relatively) stress-free!
General Tips/Time Management
- At the beginning of the week, I draw up a calendar on sheet of graph paper (I try to make it cute so I’ll actually want to look at it!). Then, every morning when I first get to class I add in hour-by-hour what my day will look like and what I’ll I need to get done. Be realistic with how long things will take, and remember to schedule yourself breaks. It’s huge for me to be able to see exactly what I need to be doing at any given time.
- I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, but seriously be sure to pack yourself some healthy/more substantial snacks along with the candy and chips. I like to bring yogurt, granola, and fruit with my for study sessions.
- Do as much work/studying as you can while you’re still at school, it’s a lot easier for me to get distracted at home. I try to finish everything before I leave (I usually stay about an hour late everyday) so I can relax once I get home
- Set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it, if you still have things to work on you can wake up earlier but it is SO important to get sleep and keep your schedule on track. NO ALL NIGHTERS.
- If you find yourself just staring at a blank Word document and aren’t getting anything done, move on to the next task. You can always come back to it when you’re feeling more inspired.
- Don’t try to do too much and put too much on your plate. If you don’t have time to help your friend with a final project, it’s okay. If you don’t have time to work that extra shift, it’s okay. If you don’t have time for something don’t feel bad about saying no – focus on yourself and your grades this week, no one will blame you for it!
- Take the time to thank your teachers (even the ones you don’t like)! They’ve been working hard, too, and they’re about to have a lot of stuff to grade in a short time, so let them know you appreciate them.
Exam Study Tips
- Try to study a little every day, not just the night before the exam.
- Write down any information you would want to take with you if you were aloud to bring in a ‘cheat sheet’. Review this right before you take the test – it’ll keep those things you don’t know as well fresh in your mind.
- Eat a good breakfast before your exams – nothing to heavy that would make you sleepy, but enough that you won’t get hungry during the exam.
- When you’re taking an exam focus only on that exam. It’s really easy for me to worry about the exam i have in the next class or a paper I need to finish and get distracted from the exam I’m in.
- Be positive and try not to worry – you’ve studied hard and it’s all going to be okay.
- When I need to write an essay fast, I get an index card for every paragraph I’ll need to write (including the intro & conclusion). On one side of the card, I write the topic of that paragraph. On the other side, I write every major point I want to make in that paragraph. For the intro card, I’ll also write out my thesis on this side. Then, once all my cards are done I move them around into an order that they flow in. Then all that’s left is to expand the ideas on the back of the cards and you’re done!
- If I need to make an paper longer to meet a requirement after I’ve finished up my argument, I choose one sentence that is interesting and try to expand it into a full paragraph. Be careful with this one – it’s easy to over expand an idea and take focus from the topic of the paper.
- Schedule a few hours to sit down and write. Try to get a rough draft down in one sitting so that the paper has a natural flow. Come back a few hours/a day later and edit edit edit.
- If you get to choose your topic, run it by your teacher first. They may have some ideas you could use, plus it’s better to know up front if what you’re writing is what they’re looking for.
- Print out a copy of your rough draft and go through it as if you were peer editing someone else’s paper. It’s easier to see mistakes on paper.
- See if your teacher will read/edit your rough draft, they usually will and will give you some great feedback.
- Make citations as you go so you’re not stuck making 15 at once.
- I like to do mine manually, but if I’m in a pinch I use this site.
Projects, Presentations, and Other Types of Finals
- If you have to do a group project, find a place to work that a) won’t distract you and b) won’t distract others. For me, this would mean somewhere on campus (it’s easy to get distracted at someone’s house or a coffee shop) but not in the library where we would have to be super quiet. The library at my school actually has group study rooms with conference tables and whiteboards, but if you could find an empty classroom that would be great too.
- Public speaking sucks, but for me it sucks a lot less if I just pretend like it doesn’t. If I act super excited about a presentation, then I’m a lot less nervous about it.
- Also for presentations – choose a friend to focus on and don’t pay attention to anyone else while you’re presenting. It’s a lot easier to tell just one person than a room of people, so block them out.
- If your final project is multiple steps, see if your teacher will let you turn them in as you finish them instead of all at once. It’ll be one less thing to worry about/lose.
Good luck on your finals! You’re all going to rock them.