You’re looking at the calendar when suddenly, the realization weighs in as heavily as your Algebra book. You have only a couple of weeks until finals!
Exam prep should not include hyperventilating or pulling the proverbial—or literal—all-nighter. In fact, when you prioritize your tasks and manage your time wisely, preparation for a semester final or EOC becomes less tedious when trying these proven strategies.
Daily Review equals Better Retention
Leading up to the week of semester or end-of-course exams, reviewing notes and key points from chapters is imperative for test prep. A daily review of the course material will save valuable time. Plus, you’ll retain important concepts more easily when you avoid “cramming” the night before the exam.
For each course, all you need to do is to review for 10 minutes to half an hour each day, keeping in mind that this allotted time is added to any homework time that is needed. So gauge it carefully to avoid burn-out.
Organize all notes and hand-outs
Studying can be a challenge when you can’t find the necessary material. In order to perform a daily review more efficiently, you should organize all notes, hand-outs, and graded papers.
Here are some hints that help with getting your notes and hand-outs in order:
Color code each subject (e.g.: Math is red; English is yellow and so forth)
Purchase binders in the corresponding color or use a permanent mark to write the course title on the front. You’ll lessen the chances of grabbing the wrong binder when rushing out the door.
Make sure to file your notes immediately. If you wait too long, you’re more likely to misplace them.
Even if this particular system doesn’t work for you, then choose a different one. Having some sort of semblance of organization works out far better than none at all—especially at “crunch time.”
Mark important pages with tabs that you can write on.
This tip applies to both the text books and your notes. In regard to notes, you’re probably already using dividers in your binders, but here are some other ideas to try in the weeks before the exam.
Place tabs or labels on the other edges of the notes.
Write a single-word topic on the label for easy reference.
Or write the number of the question from the study guide on the label.
Marking your pages in your notes not only saves time, but the process itself also serves as an excellent review of the course material.
For your textbooks, you’ll follow a similar procedure which includes:
Reviewing the text that you’ve already highlighted
Reviewing any notes that you’ve written in the margins
Attaching a tab to those pages or chapters that denotes the topic
Again, tabbing or marking pages saves a lot of page-flipping time when reviewing material from early on in the semester.
Start on study guides immediately.
The number of study guides might overwhelm you, but if you break these tasks down into smaller ones, you’ll find that completing them will be less of an obstacle. In fact, these guides are the best study tool, especially if you address a few questions on a daily basis.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Mark the tabs on your notes and your textbook with the corresponding question number on your study guide
Allot about a half hour a day per study guide. This allows for that vital consistent review.
Start working on these guides on the very day that you receive them—or at the very least the day after
Dividing up this work into smaller “chunks” makes all the difference in how accurately you answer the questions and retain the information.
Join a Study Group
Try to wipe out the perception that “misery loves company.” Think of a study group as more of support group or even a collaborative team.
Oftentimes, when you might not understand a concept or skill, then another classmate who has a firm grasp on the subject matter can explain it in terms that you can comprehend. Joining a study group pays off tremendously because your peers can assist with the following study strategies:
Focused discussion on the topic of that day’s lecture
Consistent review if you attend meetings regularly
Peer tutoring (remember that you can also lend some of your expertise)
Quizzing on vocabulary, statistics, dates, or any other important information
And don’t forget, your classmates would also have some strategies for mastering the content to share with you.
Complete a “Practice” test
Creating a “mock” quiz or test is lot easier than you might have imagined. There are different ways you can come up with a practice exam in order to prepare for the real deal. Here are some suggestions:
Complete the questions at the end of a chapter.
“Recycle” old tests and quizzes from the class by randomly picking out questions to complete. (Hint: Try correcting the ones that you missed the first time around.)
In your study group, create flash cards with key terms and con
cepts; then quiz each other.
You do not have to spend numerous hours on this strategy. In fact, as part of the practice of consistent reviewing, you might consider composing the practice test during one study session and then completing it during another. Don’t forget to check and correct your answers!
Avoid unnecessary distractions
If any study tip can be considered one of the MOST IMPORTANT, it’s definitely the avoidance of any distractions. This is where self-discipline kicks in.
Some examples of creating a distraction-free environment include:
Turning off the cell phone and any other electronic device that’s not expressly for school use
Placing all devices in a cabinet or drawer while you study so as to avoid temptation
Turning off all message notifications if using your tablet.
Likewise, you might consider leaving out any background noise from the T.V. Even changing the station can sap valuable study time.
Apply the information from your course to daily life
This practice is called synthesizing. If you look around, you can find a task, a scenario, or an issue to which you can apply one aspect of your studies. For instance, is there a historical figure or event that reminds you of current trends or leaders? Can you compare something you’ve learned about in science or math to a recent technological breakthrough or an invention that has recently made the news? Applying “book knowledge” to the “real world” helps with remembering information and more importantly, problem solving.
Communicate with instructors
“When in doubt, ask!” You might have heard this common bit of advice a hundred times, but it couldn’t hold more truth than during finals week.
You might worry that your teacher will wonder why you waited until now to clarify a confusing topic. On the contrary, he or she has grown quite accustomed to explaining (or re-explaining) a topic days before the test. It happens. More than likely, a few of your classmates have the same question as well. Taking your final with a firm grasp on all of the concepts is the best option.
Make healthy choices
When maintaining a hectic schedule, exercise, nutrition, and adequate rest are often pushed aside. However, taking care of your health is vital to optimum performance on the test (not to mention avoiding absences).
Consider the following tips:
Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
Eat a every morning to avoid sudden “crashes” in glucose levels.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day to maintain your energy level and mental alertness.
When taking up these practices on a daily basis, you’ll notice the difference in your scholastic performance and overall wellbeing.
So don’t let exam week leave you feeling unprepared. Try these strategies to get you started on the path toward success. If further help is needed during “Dead Week” or even before then, feel free to consult with the tutors