Yesterday I counted the days until summer vacation -- 29. Literally 29 days of left as a sophomore and only 18 days a class. I feel like I was just moving into my apartment and just last night, my roommate, Madison, and I were talking about how we have to start packing things up. In order to make it to my highly anticipated summer vacation, I have to make my way through finals week.
Finals week is always the most dreaded week of the year for me, this year more so because I have a Saturday final (seriously necessary). Luckily two of my finals are papers, so I only have to take three tests -- one of which is optional. As a freshman in college, I had absoltutley no clue how to handle my first finals week. I was con consumed with packing up my dorm, sending in work schedules, and getting distracted in the excitement of the end of the year so fully buckle down for the week. This year, I feel much more confident in my ability to perform well during finals week. Based off my experience last year, I feel like I've learned a thing or two about how to handle these end of the semester projects, finals, and papers that are already flooding in.
Start now for papers -- If you have a final paper due start right now. I'm a writing minor so my writing classes have final papers rather than a final exam. These assignments are such a blessing in disguise because even though you have to do a little more research, there are absolutely no surprises. Start brainstorming your thesis now and go to your professors office hours to discuss it. More often than not, your professor will let you know if you're on the right track. If you do this, you are taking control of your final grade. When it comes to writing a paper I find that writing an outline, then a rough draft is much more helpful than just sitting down and writing. Map out your thoughts instead of just spilling your ideas on a paper.
Online flashcards -- If you like to make flashcards but want to cut down on the time it takes making them, try using online flashcards. I use these when I need to memorize facts for classes where I take physical exams. I love Quizlet because it's free and I can protect all of my study sets. Also you can download the app and study your notecards on the bus or in the Starbuck line before your exam.
Start two weekends in advance -- I know starting early to study for finals is one of the worst things on the planet, but it helps to much. Two weekends before your final, prep your notes. I mean make those study cards, organize your notes, and write down any questions you might have so you have ample time to actually study and ask your professor questions.
Take breaks -- The power of taking a break is incredible. When I'm frustrated with school work, I have to take a step back from my assignment and take my mind off it. Whether I write a blog post, clean my room, watch an episode of TV, or work on another homework assignment when I take my mind off a frustrating task and then return to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind, your thoughts are so much more organized. Take the time to take a break and refresh yourself so you can think more critically and creatively.
Start studying information in advance -- Throughout my sophomore year I noticed the importance of studying multiple days in advance. One of the reasons I found this so beneficial was because I learned that when you're sleeping your brain works on filing away previously studied information increasing your long term memory. I guarantee you, if you study your notes for 30 minutes, go to bed, and wake up the following day, you'll remember more than you thought you did just because of this cognitive mechanism our brains have. If you study a little a day, multiple days in advance, you'll reinforce what you've already leaned and also strengthen your memory.
Rest -- Rest is crucial if you want to do well. Don't use this as an excuse to fall asleep at 8pm if you don't feel prepared for your exam, but don't stay up until three in the morning trying to cram. It's not beneficial and at this point, you're just hurting yourself more than helping. Better go in knowing half the info than risking oversleeping.
Meal prep -- During finals, you're going to be way to stressed to think about anything other than tests and projects. I swear the only time I think I'll have to relax will be my showers. To save on time and increase your study time, meal prep for the week. Pre cook chicken, pre roast veggies, and pre boil pasta. You can keep your schedule efficient while making sure you get all the vitamins you need for brain power.