Every spring semester after spring break, the remainder of the semester is graphically represented in my mind as black and white. On one side, I have time. I’m comfortable. It’s snowing, and summer feels a world away. On the other side, I’ve suddenly woken up and realized the end of the semester is less than two weeks away. There is really no in between, and I never know where the dark side is, until I’m in it. Every. Single. Year… Finals week suddenly jumps out of nowhere. Needless to say, I’ve been forced to find the best ways to study if the given semester’s performance was less than .. satisfactory. But really, this advice is great for any studying situation that requires endurance and efficiency.
Number one: this is the most important part – to know yourself. Know what typically distracts you, what motivates you, what helps you destress. Do you study better in a cafe, the library, or at home? Are you a visual learner? These are all answers that I’m sure most students already know. The key here is to use that information for yourself. If you know studying on a computer or laptop will eventually turn into Youtube videos, study on paper or read, then reward yourself with short cat video breaks. Know what you need to be happy and relaxed – take time for these things to maintain your sanity.
In order to keep your mind and body at top performance level, treat it well. Don’t get
over-excited and pull all-nighters. Maintain a healthy diet, which doesn’t involve tripling your caffeine intake. During exam week, researchers say we “naturally produce extra adrenaline…Extra caffeine actually inhibits your learning process because you become too jittery and overly energetic, and it interferes with your ability to focus.”
On a darker side on the topic of stimulants, it’s well known that college campuses are flooded with illegal prescription pills – especially around finals week. There’s widespread coverage on the topic, and there isn’t much left unsaid that could solve the problem. All I will say here is: never mistake prevalence with normality or safety.
With projects, tests, final papers, and normal life, there might be a lot to manage during the last couple of weeks of the semester. Plan realistically! Budget time to relax – whether that means exercising, power napping, or spending time with friends. Also remember that studying longer than a half hour at a time won’t do much good. The key to committing information to memory is studying for small chunks of time, changing both the subject and mode of study – flashcards, notes, reading, etc – with each period. Planning your tasks this way, along with the occasional, well-deserved break, will help you best memorize the information, and learn how to present the information in different formats. Take your notes on the go as well. Changing location can help you refocus, and seeing the material in different ways will help to deepen understanding.
Lastly, as you are going through finals, stay positive. Don’t spend time frantically calculating all final grade possibilities while falling into a stress spiral. Stay confident in your abilities, and you will prove yourself right. Good luck!
Written by Mary, CSI Marketing Associate
Photo by Michelle, #teamCSI