Photo Illustration by Emma Blackwell, Mary Swikle
As the countdown to finals week begins, many students begin to stress over the upcoming week of long hours filled with studying and testing. Finals serve as the last chance to change or solidify a grade and can often seem very overwhelming, especially to freshmen. Although reviewing everything you have learned since August may seem impossible, it does not have to be. Skip the stress and focus on implementing these efficient, organized study habits that will leave you prepared to ace all of your tests.
Hopefully you are aware that finals are before winter break this year (if not, now you know). Although this change leaves us with a restful, stress-free break, it also forces everyone to change old habits and work hard through the last weeks of the semester. Start studying at least a week before the tests to eliminate stress and save time for relaxation and sleep. However, do not lose sight of the last assignments and tests leading up to finals. These are a great opportunity to boost your grade a little and take some pressure off of finals themselves.
Organize, Organize, Organize
Before you even think about studying, make a to-do list. Go through each of your classes and decide what you plan to study and review. Haphazardly shuffling through old papers without purpose and staring at random assignments will (probably) not yield great results. Make a calendar, use a study guide and prepare with purpose. Freshmen, learn the schedule! Knowing the days you will be taking finals for certain classes allows you to prepare accordingly.
Use Your Resources
West is full of helpful resources that can aid your studying and provide you with that extra help you didn’t know you were looking for. One resource? Your teachers! It’s never too late to meet with your teacher… ask them about a test from August if you need to! If you don’t like that option, talk to an upperclassman. There are plenty of students and National Honor Society seniors who have been in your same position and would love to share their study habits or tips for success. Talk to your teachers to get connected with one of these students! Another option is to form a study group. Simply reviewing information with other students in your class can be immensely helpful. On the other hand, make sure you put aside time to work independently. A healthy balance of group and independent studying is, in my opinion, the best strategy.
Step Back and Schedule Breaks
If you’re like me, it can be difficult to study for hours on end without getting distracted. My advice? Plan your breaks and “procrastinate” with intention. Instead of allowing yourself to binge watch a new Netflix show, plan out your day and allow time to step back from the books. By scheduling a few mental breaks, you will be more likely to stay motivated and focused as you work. Also, it has been proven that our brains perform better when given breaks. Whether you prefer to have a snack, exercise, or watch a show, anything that offers a brain break can be beneficial!
Sleep is crucial. It can be easy to convince ourselves that half-asleep studying at 4 a.m. will be beneficial, but in all honesty, it is not. On the day of the actual exam, extra hours of sleep from the night before will leave you feeling focused, rested and confident. So, skip the caffeine and opt for sleep. If you planned your studying well, you should have plenty of time for it.
You Will Survive!
My last tip is simple: remember that everything will be okay. Although finals can seem like the end of the world, they are not. If you have put time and energy towards your classes, it will pay off! Remaining calm and confident can sometimes be just as important to understanding the material. And finally, after three short days of tests, you get to enjoy seventeen days of freedom.
Get some sleep, procrastinate correctly, and stay organized. You can do it!