If your final exam schedule is bearing down on you like a freight train with the breaks out, then you need some serious studying tips. Success with finals is about more than studying, though. It’s also about physical and psychological preparation. You have to eat right to keep up your strength and feed your brain. Make sure that you move your body to keep it toned and alert. Get plenty of sleep and psych yourself up for victory. Here are a few ideas to help you conquer your final exams.
Final exam studying tips
It’s natural to get stressed about finals but when you get stressed you can’t perform well. Everything shuts down and you can hardly remember your name let alone the answers to questions.
Jacobs gathered the tips from students, college administrators and Reddit users:
Reward yourself with non-alcoholic treats while studying
To help you focus on the material, flip your books upside down and read them
Watch funny videos to help you laugh and release stress
Skip the energy drinks in favor of water to keep hydrated
One contributor suggested the use of mental associations to help you remember important facts.
It is really useful for vocab memorization. For example you learned ‘rojo’ is Spanish for red. Draw a connection between them. They both start with R. They are both short words. Imagine something red labeled in your mind.”
Prepare your brain for final exams
To ace your finals you not only need to know the information, you need to be psychologically prepared. In a May 1, 2013 article for Psychopathology, “Top Three Tips for Better Final Exam Week Performance,” Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP explained how you can ensure success on finals.Platte's three tips include:
This piece of advice is listed first because it is one of the most important and most frequently overlooked AP strategies. Our brains are at their best when they are rested. If you sit for an AP exam while exhausted, you will have a much harder time recalling the information you need to earn a high score. AP tests are designed to assess knowledge and skills that you accumulate over months of study, so frantically reviewing your notes the week before the exam will not help you. You can study an hour or so a day to keep yourself focused and on-topic, but avoid working late into the evening.
2. Rest your hands
AP tests are not yet computer-delivered, and this means that you will be doing quite a bit of writing by hand. It may seem strange to think about, but tired hands are one factor that can affect your performance. However, there are ways to minimize the likelihood of aching fingers. On the day of your exam, bring a stress ball or other stress relief toy that will help your hands relax from their pencil-clutch posture. You can even bring a small tube of moisturizer or Tiger Balm to rub into your fingers. (Note that these items may only be used during breaks between tests – not in the exam room.)
3. Use your downtime wisely
Part of entering AP exam week rested and relaxed is feeling mentally refreshed. If your high school has large numbers of AP students, your teachers may have already taken test schedules into account when assigning homework/project due dates. If this is not the case at your school, ensure you create a work schedule well in advance of your AP exams, and aim to finish any other academic tasks before your first test. This can minimize possible stress and distraction.
Make time, too, for an activity that is fun and relaxing. Go for a walk, play a favorite video game, or invite your friends over. The specifics of what you do matter less than ensuring that you do not spend the week before your exams tense and anxious.
Take care of your body: eat right, get enough sleep, and don’t overuse caffeine or other stimulants or prescription drugs. Get plenty of exercise. Keep things in perspective: Remember that grades are not the most important thing in your life. Once you’re out of school, they rarely matter at all. Relax right before the exam: Take a walk, meditate or pray to help you relax before going into class to take your exam. According to Plante, “Thoughtful planning, attending to their bodies, keeping things in perspective, and finding relaxation strategies all can make exam week no big deal.”
Help is where you look for it :-Getting help with your finals can be as easy as talking to your instructors. Perry Nagin discussed what she learned about preparing for finals in her May 6, 2013 post, “Final Exam Tips: 5 Things to Avoid When Taking the GO TO OFFICE HOURS! I cannot emphasize enough how important this is for teacher-student rapport, helpful insight as to what material to focus on, and feeling confident in the material,” Nagin said.
Study groups are another good resource to tap because they will push you to know the answers to questions posed by your fellow students.
Know when to stop studying.
"Within 12 to 24 hours of the test, it's time to stop studying," says Grunewald. "You're not going to learn a lot of new content. The likelihood is much higher that you're going to stress yourself out and confuse yourself. For the last minute sturdier, flashcards can be a good resource. They can earn you a few more points on test day, and it's a much healthier thing to do than starting on page one of the textbook."
Get a good night's sleep.
"Eight hours is ideal for the night before an exam," says Dorsey. "It may be tempting to stay up late studying, but remember: you're going to need energy and focus while you're taking your exam."
Naturally energize yourself the morning of the test.
"Do something stimulating the morning of the test," says Grunewald. "Don't sit down and watch a back-to-back marathon of American Idol; that's just going to zap your energy level. Instead, read a book, does a crossword puzzle, take your dog for a walk, or get some excise. Do something that's going to make you feel alive and positive, and will build up your energy level and confidence in the 24 hours before the test. Please, stay away from caffeine and energy drinks! Your hand will shake so that you can't write coherent words, and you may crash in the middle of the test."
You've survived final exams before, and you'll survive them this time too," says Dorsey. "If you're feeling nervous when you sit down to take the test, take three slow, steady breaths. Remind yourself that you've been getting ready for these tests all year long."