Welcome to the first week of December! It is simultaneously the best and worst time of the year! The holiday lights are up, the Christmas tree is decorated, not to mention hot chocolate/crepes/roasted chestnut stands are on every corner in Switzerland. The best! But, also the worst! Because it is the last week of classes which means research papers, essays, and presentations! Plus we've got finals next week at FUS! So it is officially STUDY TIME.
As a junior this is my 5th finals week, and I've learned a few things along the way! Some of these tips may sound silly or obvious, but these 11 tips have worked for me and I hope they might help you or someone you know a little too!
B E P R O A C T I V E
(aka don't procrastinate)
It is a trap that we college students fall into all too often, but I promise you that being proactive about your work will make the biggest difference. This is something I've really been working on this semester and it has basically changed my life! I can honestly say that I am not even stressed out about finals. Yes I have some studying to do, but I am prepared, my projects are turned in, and I have been working hard all semester, so I don't have to play catch up during finals week. "Nothing will make you feel better but doing the work" has been my new motto! Yes, watching "The Office" and/or eating Oreos will temporarily make the stress go away, but long-term the best thing you can do for yourself is to buckle down and get to work!
P R I O R I T I Z E
In the all too likely scenario that it is far too late for the whole "be proactive" thing, move onto step two: prioritize! Tackle the subject that you can do the best at first! If there is class that you know an hour of studying could turn a B- into an A then study for that one first as opposed to a class where an hour of studying would only turn a B- into a B! Be smart here, time is a commodity you can't waste during finals week. Beyond prioritizing working on things you can improve the most on, think about how important the exams are, study more for the test that is worth 40% of your grade vs. the one that is only worth 20%.
I N C E N T I V I Z E
Schoolwork can be fun, but it can also be daunting. So in order to try and make it a little bit better, incentivize! I have quite the sweet tooth, so for me I have a small bowl of gummies and I eat one after every page I read or paragraph I write. Also, I'm a fan of the timer system, I will set my timer for 20min or so and force myself to work without distraction for those 20min then allow myself to check Facebook or whatever and mindlessly read for a few minutes before I start another 20min work timer. If the work is broken up into 20min chunks it doesn't seem so bad!
U N P L U G
Thank you Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg for all your wonderful technological contributions, but sometimes they certainly make it hard to concentrate! So while studying I often will put my phone in airplane mode to eliminate distractions. If it is really dire (and I don't need Internet access for studying) I will also turn the wifi on my computer off. This helps eliminate the temptation to check an email that just came in or any notifications that might pop up. I would rather study 100% for 1 hour than 50% for 2 hours. Go all in. Eliminate distractions and make that study time count!
M A K E A L I S T
Not only will this help you to prioritize what you have to do, but it will also help you keep track of all your assignments/due dates and most importantly, when things are done, you get to check them off! There is something so ridiculously satisfying about checking an item off a To Do list!
O R G A N I Z E
Sticky notes, colored pens, and highlighters are just a few of my favorite studying tools. Marking the most important information not only helps consolidate it in my brain, but it improves my understanding, and makes it easier to remember the most important aspects of what I am studying.
P H O N E A F R I E N D
Whether it be a roommate, a professor, or a staff member at the Writing and Learning Center, don't be afraid to use your resources and ask for help! People are usually more than willing to help if you ask nicely - so go ahead and have a fresh set of eyes look over your paper or a more knowledgeable peer explain a concept you just can't grasp (shout out to my two Italian-speaking roommates who always are willing to help me with Italian!)
I meant for the title of this tip to be more of a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire reference, but you could also literally phone a friend if you don't have a friend on campus who can help you!
T A K E A B R E A K
No one can study forever! Whether it be a tea break, a quick Skype call home, or a chat with a friend in the hallway outside of the library. Let your mind refresh every hour or so with a 15min break.
R E W A R D Y O U R S E L F
Is this category really that different from "Incentivize"? Probably not. But what can I say? I am a fan of the rewards system when it comes to studying! Gummy bears are adequate for little incentives, but when it comes to the big stuff (say finishing a big research project) I prefer a baking project, say chocolate chip cookies!! And just to be clear: not all of my rewards involve food! I also am a huge fan of listening to podcasts while I take walks around the lake, or bike at the gym, etc! (Bonus: exercise is good for your brain too!) Even if it is just one research paper down and there are two more to go, reward yourself in some way!
S T A Y H E A L T H Y
As a psychology student, I can tell you that stress is one of the worst things for your body, so try and limit your stress for your own health! But also, keep in mind that the stress of finals may be compromising your immune system, so take extra precautions. For me this means remembering to drink lots of water (obvious, but so important) eat lots of fresh food, and most importantly: SLEEP! College students should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Everyone is different, but any less than that and you are just cheating yourself. Not only will your health suffer, but your memory will be worse, which is ultimately worse for your studying!
B R E A T H E
And last but not least, breathe. Maybe it's a little clichéd, but the most important thing is that you do your best, if you have given it your best shot, there is nothing to worry about. Because ultimately, it is just a test, it is just a project, you do not have to define your whole life by how you do on one final exam. Obviously school is important, but keep some perspective here. It is just a test, study and you'll do just fine! I believe in you!
Good luck to everyone! Happy studying! And may the odds be ever in your favor!