Healthy Study Habits for Finals
by Jess Sides | published Feb. 26th, 2020
With finals being an ever-looming stressor for students, it’s vital that students reduce their test anxieties as much as possible. How can students effectively study for so many exams in such a short amount of time?
Studying for Finals
When studying for finals, there are a few things students can do to ensure their success. To begin, it’s important to take time to plot out your workload. You should have an idea of what it is you’re being tested on, whether the exam is cumulative or not. Working with professors, as well as consulting syllabi, is key to finding this information.
From there you should make an exam study plan; this will help you visually see when your exams are, as well as how to break up your time.
You should also take a look at your past exams. This can help you review old material, as well as troubleshoot material you didn’t fully understand before. From there, you can create similar problems and attempt to solve them.
Studies have also shown that by teaching another individual the content, your own knowledge of the content will solidify. Try and find a friend that needs help studying, and explain the concepts in your own words.
Dan Hickey, assistant director of the Academic Success Center (ASC), explained how to make the abundance of information stick.
“In order for information to gel and stick we need to give it time and attention,” he said. “You need to have and create the time.”
Furthermore, he said it’s important to be active in studying. Reading is known to be a passive activity. You can read a page over and over again without having any idea what you just read.
“You need to have some sort of action; that’s where things will really start to stick,” Hickey said. “Notecards, flashcards, graphic organizers, mind maps, study sheets, that’s something you’re creating.”
He explained that the activity of making these study aids is studying in and of itself.
The ASC — Preparing Throughout the Semester
Cha Ron Sattler-Leblanc, senior director of the ASC, said that they’re in the business of helping students learn how to learn. The earlier in the semester students come to the ASC, the more they can help.
“We help students burn pathways. It’s like shoveling snow. First it’s hard, but it gets easier the more times you go over it,” Sattler-Leblanc said. “Students think they aren’t working as hard but the material is sticking.”
The ASC also helps students consolidate their information in class, tackle reading assignments and be more strategic with their time.
Both Hickey and Sattler-Leblanc mentioned the ASC’s online toolbox as a resource for students. There are tools to help with both daily and semester planning. The semester calendar is their most popular tool, according to Hickey.
“That’s how [students] can see time. They know where they are in the semester, and can plan for weekly quizzes, tests and homework all on one sheet of paper,” Hickey said.
The ASC also offers a variety of courses to help with study strategies as well as weaker subjects. Some of the courses they offer include Applied Study Strategies, Insights on Success and even Core Physics Concepts. The ASC also offers math and physics support in the Bates and Sol’s Study Centers.
For more one-on-one help, the ASC offers academic coaching. These appointments can be made online at their website and their coaches offer a variety of services. They help with everything from time management, to study strategies, to academic motivation, as well as test anxiety. A full list of their offerings are available here.
Hickey mentioned that studying should be a process from the start of classes to finals. You shouldn’t be studying just two or three days before the exam; you need to give yourself enough time to study. The learning and study process is highlighted on the ASC’s website alongside a study tool kit that encompasses all potential aspects of the semester as well as how to plan for them.
The ASC finals rally happens every semester in the weeks approaching finals. The event seeks to bring awareness that studying is a process, as well as to show students the extent of their resources.
“We help with troubleshooting to plan out the next week, hoping [the students] will come back,” Sattler-Leblanc said.
It's never too late to start focusing on good study habits because according to Sattler-Leblanc, you will learn till you die.
Taking Care of Yourself
Especially during finals, students tend to let themselves go both physically and mentally. Students tend to sleep less due to staying up late studying, as well as eat less. How can students take care of themselves with finals approaching?
In order to take care of yourself, you need to fulfill your basic needs. You need to get enough sleep, eat well-balanced meals and drink water. If these needs aren’t met, you make it much harder on yourself to get any work done.
According to Sattler-Leblanc, there are ways to recover from stress.
She said, “Go for a walk if nature helps. If you know someone with a furry friend, go cuddle with them.”
She also suggested that you need to recognize your friends are going through this too and suffering with you; lean on one another.
“You can reflect and figure out how you can do it better next time,” Sattler-Leblanc said.
She also stressed pacing yourself with breaks, and how that will help you get quality work time. However, you need to be strategic with your breaks and be careful not to take too many. A good way to do this is by making sure the length of your breaks are sufficient compared to the amount of work you completed.
Some more stress relief ideas including meditation, yoga, going for a swim, spending time at the gym, listening to music, writing in a journal and spending time with friends.
Hickey emphasized resources; there are a lot of resources on campus specifically to help students with their stressors and problems.
“You’ll have a better chance of studying more effectively and going into exams confidently and ready,” Hickey said.
You can always lean on friends from class, but there are also peer coaches, professors, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Center for Women and Gender. The ASC can also help with studying to make sure you’re on the right track.
Hickey said, “No one ever said you had to come to college and do it alone.”