The final exam season is quickly approaching, and I know that many of you are already anticipating what promises to be a busy time of year. Well, I’m here to tell you that November isn’t over yet, and despite what you might think, you still have plenty of time to prepare for your final assignments and exams. If you missed our previous blog post “Survival Guide 101: Midterms” you may not be aware of all the academic resources York U has to offer. Read my list of useful study tips below and learn more about the York U resources that can help you prepare for finals!
1. Start Early and Create a Schedule
It’s always a good idea to start preparing for finals in advance. Making a study schedule and sticking to it can help. Essentially, a study plan is a schedule that outlines when and what you will review and highlights important dates to remember (such as the dates of your midterms). I suggest using an agenda booklet that will display your weekly schedule so that you can plan your study sessions in advance. You should colour-code each subject differently so it is easy to differentiate between them. When you create you study schedule, write down how much time you need to spend on each subject, keeping in mind that you may need more time to review certain challenging topics. Check out our previous YU Blog, “Time Management Tips for York U Students” to learn how to manage your time effectively.
2. Stay Organized
Another way to make the most of your study time is to stay organized. Once you have created your study schedule, make a list of the key topics and concepts that will be on your exams and decide how many hours to devote to each topic. You may want to create colour-coded summary notes to remember the course material and give yourself an overview of everything you’ll need to cover in the next few weeks. You can also book an appointment with a Learning Skills Specialist to get assistance with organization, study tips and help understanding the course information clearly.
3. Ask Questions
When you are studying, it’s a good idea to clarify specific subjects or topics that you are having trouble understanding. Contact your professor or TA or ask a fellow student to help you understand the topics you’re struggling with before your exam. There are also many different York U resources that offer learning assistance, including Learning Skills Services, The Writing Centre, the Study Hub and more. Learning Skills Services offers weekly workshops covering topics like critical thinking, exam prep, managing academic stress, math and science problem solving skills and more. The Writing Centre offers expert advice on essay writing, exam prep and will even review assignments with you. Study Hub is a great online tool to find tutors, people to study with and others looking for help with specific subjects. You can find more information regarding these services on the York University Current Students website.
A key component of successful studying is making sure you get enough sleep. Pulling all-nighters may seem like a good idea at the time, but if you don’t get enough rest, I can guarantee that the next day will be unproductive and can even make you forgetful and less able to retain key information. You always want to make sure you are well-rested the night before a big test as well. Your brain forms neural pathways at night to help you remember the new information you’ve learned, so sleeping is actually a key part of studying! Have some last-minute cramming to do before the test? Go to bed early and wake up early to study before the exam. When you’re well-rested, you’ll be in a better position to remember what you’ve learned.
5. Stay Calm
Feelings of stress and nervousness can be pretty common during the exam season. However, it’s beneficial to stay calm and try not to overthink the situation. Instead, create a realistic study schedule that will allow you to review for all of your finals and include key breaks when you can take your mind off your exams. It’s a good idea to take exercise breaks: by stepping away from your studies to go for a walk with a friend or for a run for half an hour, you can re-invigorate your energy levels and maintain work-life balance. Studying from 8am to 3am every day isn’t an effective way to prepare for exams. Strong time management includes a good night’s rest, exercise and time off to have fun.
It’s especially important to stay calm during your exams. Just remember that you have plenty of time, you’ve studied as much as you could and that this one exam will not make-or-break your overall grade. It’s also important to not panic after the exam has been finished. Relax and enjoy your free time once you have completed the exam period! There are events happening around York every week that can help relax your mind. For example, Mental Health Disability Services offers a Mindfulness Meditation Workshop every Wednesday at noon at the Bennett Centre. Check out the monthly calendar for different workshops and sessions available. If you are struggling to cope with your feelings of stress or anxiety, you may want to schedule an appointment with Personal Counselling Services.
6. Study with a Buddy
Study groups can be an effective way to prepare for finals. As long as you remember to stay focused, you can gain significant benefits from studying with your peers and taking turns explaining core concepts. To conduct a productive study group, assign key topics that each person will cover and explain to everyone else. You may also want to take turns quizzing each other or going over concepts some people might not understand. If you can teach a concept to someone else, you know you’ve mastered it! Don’t forget to bring some snacks for brain food!
7. Quiz Yourself
Even if you’re studying on your own, a good study tip for the exam season is to occasionally quiz yourself so that you can actually get some practice answering questions and remembering what you have already learned. This is a great way to help with memorization of terms, as well as with harder topics that include complex explanations.
8. Make it Fun
This is one of the most important aspects to studying for finals. If all you do is cram for exams and never take time to have some fun, you will burn out and diminish your motivation. Instead, you can make studying more enjoyable by quizzing yourself, studying with others, rewarding yourself when you master a complex concept or creating acronyms to help you remember long formulas. There are so many different ways to create an overall game plan that will help you stay on top of studying but also give you some time to relax.
What are your study tips and tricks for finals? Comment below or tweet us on Twitter at @YorkUStudents.