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8 Study Tips to Help You Plan for Finals Week

A college student studies for finals in his dorm room.

As the end of the semester approaches, it’s time to turn your attention to your final exams. Don’t panic; it’s not as tough as it sounds. If you make a solid plan for yourself that includes some study techniques and minor lifestyle changes in the weeks leading up to your finals, you give yourself a great shot at succeeding. At the very least, you could reduce finals-induced anxiety and be more efficient with the limited time you have left. So instead of last-minute cramming, we recommend you try these eight study tips to help you plan for finals week and set yourself up for success. 

1. Know What’s Expected

Take time to find out what’s going to be on your exams. A good place to start is the syllabus. If not there, ask your instructor/professor. Most professors want you to succeed (it reflects well on them) so it’s a good bet they’ll let you in on what to prepare for. The more specific info you can get, the better. The goal is to narrow down the information you need to know so you don’t waste time studying anything that won’t be relevant. It’s all about being efficient with your study time. At the very least, it helps to know whether the exam will be cumulative, or more like a regular test.

2. Prioritize and Make Time Accordingly

Is there a certain course you need more help with? Or is one of your finals a heavily weighted project in lieu of a test? Recognizing things like this ahead of time can help you prioritize and manage your time wisely as finals week approaches. Start by going through your courses and ranking them by difficulty. Those that are more difficult will likely require more time, while those you excel in probably won’t require as much time. Make note of this as you plan your studying schedule (more on that later). This kind of simple prioritization will be a huge help in being more efficient. 

3. Start a Study Group

Let’s face it, studying alone can be challenging. For some students, the lack of engagement makes it difficult to stay on task. For others, studying alone is simply more difficult. If this sounds like you, try creating a small study group with a classmate or two. Experts say that it’s easier to retain key information when you talk about it with others in your own words rather than try and memorize it from a textbook. Not to mention, working in a group is a bit more fun than cramming alone in your dorm. 

With that said, it’s important you do what’s best for you. If you’re more of a lone wolf and you study well independently, more power to you! 

4. Keep Your Final Exam Schedule Handy

You can probably picture your exam schedule in your head. But we recommend you go old school and print it out or write it down in a planner or notebook as well. The reason being, having that visual aid will help you remember the dates and times so there’s zero chance you will forget. You can also use that schedule weeks in advance to get your mind ready. For example, if your upcoming chemistry final is at 9 a.m., review your notes at that same time now to build some ‘muscle memory’ for your brain. 

5. Get Plenty of Good Rest 

We know, good sleep is hard to come by. But there’s nothing better for the mind than a good night’s rest. Especially when it comes to testing. In fact, experts at sleepeducation.org say that good sleep can improve memory, especially when sleep comes right after studying. Conversely, sleep deprivation can lead to difficulty recalling information, increased mistakes, overall fatigue, and feelings of irritability. We can’t stress this enough: get some sleep before your exams! 

6. Work in Some Brain Food 

If you’re like most students, eating healthy isn’t always a top priority or even a possibility. That’s why we’re not telling you to give up quick dorm room snacks completely. Instead, try to introduce some “brain food” into your diet where you can, and forgo junk food when at all possible. For example, instead of the late-night bag of chips, fill up on balanced meals and plenty of water throughout the day. This will keep your mind sharp as you ramp up the studying and help you get better sleep.

7. Quiz Yourself Often 

Studying is great and all, but if you’re not actively trying to retain the information you’re studying, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The easiest way to actively participate in your studies is stop and quiz yourself every so often. This forces your brain to recall what you know in your own words, which will help you better memorize the information in the long run. It might help to have a friend or family member ask you questions to make it more like a real test. Flashcards and other visual aids are also useful for quizzing yourself before a big exam. 

8. Create a Study Schedule

This is where it all comes together. After you know what’s going to be on your exams, you have your study group, and you’ve prioritized which courses will need more attention, you can put pen to paper and create a study schedule. For best results, give yourself at least two to three weeks to study. Assign windows of time throughout your days to studying specific content for specific classes. A good schedule not only keeps things organized, but it also keeps you accountable. Don’t forget to give yourself breaks. 

After you’ve aced your finals, you’ll need to turn your focus to moving out of your dorm or apartment. Luckily, you don’t have to figure that part out by yourself. Collegeboxes provides expert storage, moving, and shipping services for college students. Sign up today!