It won’t be long before the semester ends and finals arrive. Now is the perfect time to start planning your study schedule so you can clear your exams. We spoke to peer tutors from the Academic Success and Achievement Program (ASAP) and they shared some useful tips on when to start preparing, how to plan and study strategies to help you find your focus.
When to start preparing
“Three weeks before finals and two weeks before major exams — proven to be great for long-term memory retention so you can absorb all the material and practice exams.” Annamarie M.
“The best strategy I’ve found for midterms and finals is a two-week agenda. Two weeks before the exam, I tackle all the little assignments and life tasks that I know I will need to complete during the exam. This includes tedious (but necessary) homework assignments, small chores around my dorm, meal planning so I know what to eat to keep me focused, and anything else I can do. In other words, I grind first on everything except the study material. My main study week is a week before the exam. However, I am always careful to avoid burnout from sitting for hours poring over study material. If I set aside 30 minutes to an hour at a time I feel a lot less stressed. Regardless, I spend at least some time looking at the material every day of the fortnight. Eventually, by the end of the week, things became familiar and familiar in terms of content. Alyssa S.
How to prepare
“One, don’t cram at the last minute. Two, bring a tutor if you are having trouble before the first test. I made that mistake in organic chemistry. Three, find out or ask what the professor is writing the test for. Will it be based on readings or lecture notes? Then, study it more but don’t neglect other subjects. Annamarie M.
“Learning strategies are very individual and depend on how you want to learn. However, I always recommend that my students recall the material as often as possible. This can be through flashcards, a quizlet, having a friend ask you questions or working on a problem without using notes. Also, if your professor provides learning objectives, use them as a way to quiz yourself to gauge how well you’re retaining the material after reviewing the lecture information. Try to question yourself every now and then and avoid the rush! Sidney W.
“First, create an ideal space to make the most of the time you devote to studying. Clean your room, light a candle and play soft music. Anything that helps put you in a focused state of mind. Two, avoid burnout. The moment you feel your eyes burning or your hair pulling out, back away. Take yourself and breathe for 5-20 minutes. Eat a snack. Third, don’t worry. Realize that sometimes life happens and we don’t have time to study as much as we would like. Fortunately, there is almost always an opportunity to do better. Figure out what went wrong and try again. Alyssa S.
“Study a lot, as well as last night and day. Review and take practice tests. Set aside some time to exercise, meditate, listen to music, anything that helps you relax the night before or the night before the exam so you don’t get too stressed. Focus on the positives, not just how stressed you are at school. Talk to people if you’re feeling stressed. Annamarie M.
“I give myself things to look forward to. Before I sit down to study or tackle a practice test, I take a moment and breathe. I picture myself this time next week–when the exam is over, the stress is gone, and I’m eating my favorite food. I realize that next week will come sooner than I think. I just need to get through this moment. Alyssa S.
“Turn off all distractions and use the Pomodoro Timed Study Technique: 25 minutes of study followed by a five-minute break. I like to get up from my desk and walk around. Remember, fatigue is easier to cure than exhaustion, so if taking a break will help you in the long run, do it! Paloma M.
During the exam
“Exams can be really stressful and stressful. I recommend going through the entire exam before starting and taking mental notes about the structure and type of questions asked. Have any essay questions? Have a question you know the answer to right away? How much time can you spend on each question? This will help you budget your time and make a plan of attack instead of going into the exam blindly. Sidney W.
“Use your time wisely! To stay engaged during a test, read all questions carefully and think through all answers carefully. Paloma M.
Things to keep in mind after the exam
“I think it’s important to understand that a test grade doesn’t reflect your intelligence or ability, but your study approach and preparation. Exams are informative tools that help you adjust and improve your study strategy. Adopting this mindset helped motivate my students even more to do their best and finish strong despite unexpected test scores. Sidney W.
“Attitude is always the make-or-break factor when it comes to grades, so when you don’t get the grade you expected, use that as motivation to change the way you do things. Maybe it looks like learning differently, looping teachers to find the disconnect, or getting help from a tutor ASAP! Paloma M.
Become a tutor ASAP
Once finals are behind you, think about the courses you excelled in and consider tutoring in that subject ASAP. There are many benefits to becoming an ASAP teacher and this is a great way to get involved.
“When you become a teacher, you start to see which learning strategies are more successful than others. For example, I tell my students to take notes in their own words instead of copying words from a lecture slide. Also, learning smaller amounts more frequently can be a big help in recall. Since taking on this role, I have been able to refine my approach to learning so that I work ‘smarter’ and not ‘harder’.” Sydney W.
“Being a teacher has helped me a lot to become a better learner, which is questioning not only your own learning style but also the learning styles of others. Reinforcing content in many ways has shown me very interesting and unique perspectives on how to learn things. Paloma M.
Remember to prioritize the important ones, prepare yourself and take the exam one at a time. ASAP is available to all first-year students, including commuters, and all students living on campus, including Bear Creek. If you are looking for support or want to become a teacher yourself visit the website ASAP! You can also check out additional tutoring services for certain classes or departments.