For most college students, finals week is the last frustrating task that stands between the end of the semester and the start of a well-deserved summer. While it’s unlikely that your finals week will be entirely calm and pleasant, how you spend your precious hours during this week can partially dictate just how challenging it is.
Chances are you’ve heard the usual finals advice to eat well and get enough rest. This is certainly true—but how, when, and with whom you study is also worthy of thought. Consider, for instance, these three common mistakes students make when studying for finals:
1. Reviewing class material for too long
Just like pulling an all-nighter can be detrimental to your health and your grade, a 12-hour block of studying can leave your brain fatigued and unable to accurately recall course information once your study session ends. To maximize your review efforts, limit your sessions to shorter lengths, such as an hour or two, and vary the subjects. Try devoting 30 minutes to each class, with three two-hour sessions spaced evenly throughout the day.
2. Solely using the same study methods
By the time you reach college, you probably know how you like to study, and it can be tempting to adhere to that technique and that technique only. But sometimes change can be a good thing. If there’s a particular concept you’re struggling to commit to memory, it may help to ditch the textbook and YouTube a lecture on the subject. Varying your review strategies enables you to approach the topic from multiple angles, deepening your understanding of the concept. This works equally well in both your most challenging and your easiest classes.
3. Isolating yourself from others
While excessive socializing with friends is unlikely to help you meet your goals for finals week or the semester, this doesn’t mean that you should lock yourself away in your dorm room or barricade yourself in a library carrel. There are two instances where socializing may even help your performance. First, if you can separate work from pleasure, studying with others can be a very effective way to clarify difficult or confusing content. (Remember that multiple learning strategies can help you master the entirety of a subject.) Second, a lunch date or a walk with a close friend can allow you to reset your mind and to refocus when you return to your review or you sit down to take a final.
This post was submitted by Varsity Tutors, founded in 2007 by Olin alumnus Chuck Cohn, BSBA ’08. Varsity Tutors is a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.
Image courtesy of Creative Commons/Wikipedia.