It’s no secret that finals are just around the corner — with that comes crazy amounts of stress and anxiety.

It’s easy to want to slack off when summer is staring at you, tempting you at every corner, but now’s not the time to throw in the towel. If you haven’t been doing great this semester so far, you’ve got to work even harder. Even if you have been doing well in your classes, it doesn’t mean you can coast the rest of the semester — you’ve still got to put in the work, too!

Here are some easy steps to make sure you ace your finals:

1. Read every week
Although most of us look at the weekly reading assignments on the syllabus as optional, they really aren’t. My junior year I had a crazy courseload with intense amounts of reading, but I kept up with my reading every single week. Although I spent more time hitting the books (and less time partying), I saw a huge improvement in how well I retained the material in class because I read the chapter the weekend before. Don’t believe me? Read this.

2. Go over notes
Look over notes from the past few weeks — does it still make sense? Or are all those facts just jumbled bits of information? If you answer the latter, it’s time to review those notes. You don’t have to do this all in one sitting, but you can break it up week by week. Your brain will thank you when you’re not trying to cram all of that information in right before exams. For advice on reviewing and note-taking, click here.

3. Go to every class
As stupid as this sounds, it’s one of the biggest mistakes college students make. For you to do well in a class, you need to be there every single class period. If you’re sick, get the notes from a classmate or meet with the professor. You’ve got to be proactive — no one is going to hold your hand and make sure you understand what you missed. If you’re not sure if it’s OK to skip, try this calculator.

4. Complete your study guide
If a professor/instructor is nice enough to provide you with a study guide for your final exam, make sure you understand every single concept on that piece of paper. It will benefit you the most if you type out an outline with all the information you think you’ll need to know on every topic. Not only is this a good way to review, but it will help you weed out the unnecessary information you don’t need to study.

5. Meet with your professor (if needed)
Most of the time, you won’t need to take this step. If you’re able to understand all of the material and don’t have any major questions, you’ll be OK with studying on your own. If there are major gaps that you don’t understand, it’s time to arrange a meeting with your professor. It’s better to do this ahead of time than sending that oh-so-desperate email the night before the exam asking for an explanation on something.


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