Grades are the most important application component that colleges consider, and final exams can have a big impact on your overall course grade for the semester. Don’t wait until the last minute to start studying for finals.
Studying is never fun, but it’s necessary in order to build upon your current knowledge and perform well inside of the classroom – which is essential to eventually gaining admission to your top-choice colleges. Depending on your school and the teacher, a “final exam” could be just another test, or it could be a huge portion of your grade and cover everything you’ve learned in the course thus far. No test is to be taken lightly, and finals are no different.
IvyWise’s team of expert tutors has compiled some of their top study tips for final exams below.
Create a schedule.
The first step toward mapping out a study timeline for finals is to find out which tests you’re taking on which days. Some finals might be staggered, while some might be all on the same day. Mark your calendar with all test dates and create a timeline for your study sessions. Do you need a week to prepare? Two weeks? How many hours per day will you spend studying? Once you figure out how much time you’ll be dedicating to each exam, set aside time on your calendar to actually fulfill those study commitments. If it’s scheduled, you’re more likely to stick to it than if you just tried to hold yourself to it without a plan.
Pull together all study materials.
After you create your study schedule, collect all materials that you’ll need to prepare. This includes:
- Class notes
- Study guides
- Previous tests
- Practice tests
- Previous assignments
- Reading assignments
- Your text books
Organize all these materials by subject so that nothing gets mixed up with another course’s materials. This will also help you determine what materials you may be missing. Maybe you were out sick one day and missed the class notes on a particular section. This is where it’s beneficial to have a study group or a strong relationship with your teacher. Don’t be afraid to ask for notes from a classmate or suggestions from your teacher about where you can find relevant resources for the information you’re missing.
Organize all your materials into a format that’s easiest for you to review.
It’s hard to take materials like hand written notes, typed study guides, reading passages, or other study aids and study with them in their original format. It’s easier to take all those materials and reformat them into an arrangement that’s more easily reviewed and organized. For some students, flash cards are easiest to study with. For others, color-coded study guides or outlines are easier to review. Determine which medium is easiest for you and organize all the information you have into that format.
Use different study methods to remember information
You’d be surprised how certain memorization tricks like mnemonic devices can help you remember important information, especially if you’re studying a semester’s worth of material. Use tricks like rhymes, songs, acronyms, poems, and more to remember information like items in a list, different scientific laws or principles, and other pieces of information that may have multiple parts.
One example is one of the most familiar to students: ROY G. BIV or red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet – the colors of the rainbow.
Take a break.
You may have a lot of studying to do, but don’t forget to give your brain a break every now and then. Just like your body needs a rest after being active all day, your brain needs some time to recharge after learning and studying for an extended period of time. Taking short breaks during your study sessions can help you better focus once you return to studying and help you better retain the information you’re reviewing.
Go to bed early the night before.
Sleep is so important! Many students will pull “all-nighters,” staying up throughout the night to study and not getting any sleep. Studies have shown that staying up late to study will actually hurt your performance on test-day, not improve it. So make sure to get a good night’s sleep before your test. Hopefully if you’ve planned ahead and stuck to your study schedule, you won’t need the extra study time the night before.
Ask for help if you need it.
If you’re having trouble studying, or just don’t understand some of the material you need to know for your final exam, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to your teachers to see if they can walk you through some of the material you don’t understand or if they are offering any tutoring sessions to help. Ask classmates who understand the material if they can help you work through it. Also, don’t be afraid to seek help from a tutoring professional. At IvyWise we have a number of tutors who can help students prepare for final exams in almost every subject, from math and science to English and history. One or two sessions of tutoring can easily take you from a “C” to an “A.”
The stress of final exams coupled with preparing for college can leave students feeling overwhelmed, but by taking the time to create a study plan, you’ll be better prepared to ace your finals come test-day.