How to prepare for finals THE RIGHT WAY

Written by: Cosme Lozano

You’ve finally done it… You’ve been working hard, and grinding the whole s­chool year, and it’s time to wrap it all up. For some, all it takes is a lack of discipline and the thought of summer beaches to derail all that hard work. Don’t find yourself in that situation. Today, I’m going to go over some tips to help college students finish the school year the right way!

First and foremost, you have to know your schedule. How are you going to make a plan of attack if you don’t even know your own finals schedule? Trust me, in my time at college there have been students who are genuinely unaware or lost when it comes to this. So before you do anything else, find out the deets!

Study time is the second most important aspect for finals. For me, I can study about two to three hours before I get burnt out. During that time, I take fifteen minute strategic breaks. Eventually a car runs out of gas, and it needs a refill. The same applies for you. You have a certain amount of focus, and eventually you will run out. These breaks help get those levels back up. Above all else find the proper amount of time that works best for you to get the effective amount of studying done. While I am not a fan of all-nighters, for some people they work really well. Some individuals need their backs against the wall to do their best work. Whether you’re studying for one hour, or three days prior before the final, it is important that it’s the optimal amount of time for you. And be honest with yourself. I get you want to be done with it all, but you have one last job to do before you can have fun. Do the proper amount of prep work, ace the test, and then have all the fun you want.  

Carrying on from study time, it’s crucial that you effectively divide your time among your classes. You should not solely focus on one class and ignore the others. On the flipside, you don’t want to study for all of your finals at the same time. That’s a lot of different information to process, and it can emotionally overwhelm you. As a good rule of thumb, I usually study for a class in intervals of one hour. I study a little, transition to another class, take a break, and then I’ll wrap back around to the first final and study some more. Rinse and repeat. If it’s a class that I am struggling in heading into the final, I may give special attention to that class. Maybe instead of one hour I’ll do two hours, so I can really hammer down the stuff I am still confused on. The key is to be efficient with your time.

An underrated aspect of success for students is sleep. Good sleep can be the difference for when you’re studying, or for when you take the test. It’s generally recommended that people get about 7-8 hours of sleep per night. In a study done at Baylor University, researchers discovered that students who met their “8-hour sleep challenge” did better on their finals, compared to the students who did not adhere to the challenge and got less sleep.

My last bit of advice is to use the resources provided for you. If you need extra assistance, get some help. A lot of colleges have tutors, academic resource centers, math centers, etc. All of which are built to help students in similar situations. If that doesn’t do it for you, talk to your professor directly. I have been incredibly fortunate in my college time to have great professors go over the study guide with me further during their office hours. Getting one on one help with your professors is sometimes what students need the most.  

You’ve come so far. You have been doing academic work for over half the year, and it all leads up to one test. It can be daunting, but hopefully this guide helps put finals into a more manageable perspective. Take things one step at a time, study the right amount, and stay calm. Trust me, you will get through this. See ya in the summer!

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