For most of you, final exams are going to be dominating your life for the next week or two.

Exam Paper

Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid them, so it’s time to accept that school has to be number one for you during this time.

This is easier said than done, especially when your friends are enjoying end-of-the-semester fun and outdoor activities, but it’s time to suck it up and hit the books.

Here is some advice on getting the most out of your studying time!

Make a study plan

Take a calendar and write down the day and time of each of your exams. Consider each exam separately and write down how much material you will need to go over during the days before the exam and add this to your calendar, too. This will differ from exam to exam, depending on the difficulty of the material and if the exam is cumulative or not.

When studying for a cumulative exam, you’ll want to break down your studying into multiple days. You can spend less time on information you feel more comfortable with and more time on topics you struggle with. I liked to spend time reviewing what I had gone over the day before as well. For example: If you studied topic/chapter A and B on Monday, do a quick skim of the material before you start with the next topic/chapter on Tuesday. Continue doing this all week so the information stays fresh in your mind.

Balance your classes

As we all know, some classes are significantly easier than others, but what happens when you’re studying for multiple exams that are all going to be just as hard? That’s when your study plan comes in handy. Make sure that you stick to the plan and don’t try to overwhelm yourself. Also make sure to get up and move around in between your study sessions for different classes so you don’t fall asleep!

Get your notes in order

Depending on your professor, you may get a heads up on what the exam will cover. If you’re REALLY lucky, you may even get a study guide or essay prompts in advance. The best thing to do in this case is to throw out the notes you know you won’t need and to fill out your guide or work on the prompts as soon as possible.

If your professor does not throw any hints your way, you’ve got two options. If your professor works on a chapter-by-chapter basis, then review each chapter separately. If your professor works completely independently of a textbook, then try to take it on a topic-by-topic basis. You may consider talking to or emailing your professor and asking for help on identifying “key themes” you  need to review.

Consider a study group

Study groups can be incredibly helpful, especially if you’re trying to break down a study guide or essay prompts because you’ll be able to divide up the work and get feedback from your peers.

Don’t have any study buddies in the class? Don’t be afraid to start your own group! If you’re able to send out an email to your entire class, let them know you’re in the market for a study group and to email you if they are interested. You’ll be surprised by how many others are in the same boat as you!

Word of warning: Don’t expect to only do your studying when you’re with the group. You will have to put in some individual time to really commit the material to your memory.

Don’t bother cramming

I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times before, but I cannot stress this enough. Cramming right before an exam does you no good! If you have an exam in the morning, wake up and eat breakfast, grab your caffeinated beverage of choice (if needed) and go straight to your exam. You’ll want to go in calm with a clear head. If you don’t know it now, you don’t know it. If you have an afternoon exam, you can study in the morning but make sure to give yourself a multiple-hour break.

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