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10 Tips for Surviving Semester Finals
Semester finals may seem overwhelming. Every class you're enrolled in will have a final exam, final paper, final project or some combination of the above. Fortunately, there are some techniques you can use to help you focus and to make the task of preparing for finals more manageable.
Before You Start
- Reduce Distractions. Find a quiet place in your dorm, library or coffee shop to work and concentrate. Avoid distractions like television, social networking sites and your cell phone. Find something that helps you concentrate, like music. Develop a place to study that is just that—a place where you go to work on academics.
- Don't Procrastinate. Putting off projects, papers or studying until the last minute can increase the feeling of being overwhelmed. The task at hand may be a challenge, and you may feel there are better ways to spend your time, but procrastinating can make the quality of work suffer.
- Assess Each Task. Spend time thinking through everything that needs to be done. If possible, segment the task into smaller steps and pieces. It's much easier to tackle smaller chunks than one huge task. Often, simply staying on top of assigned reading and coursework will alleviate some of this challenge.
Time to Study
- Get Started. Avoid shooting for completion in one sitting. It will probably overwhelm you if you try to finish everything at once. Get started on the smaller pieces, and incremental progress will follow.
- Take Advantage of Study Guides. In many classes, your professor or TA has taken the time to create a study guide for the final exam. Use it. They generally give you an excellent indication of the information you will be tested on.
- Study in Chunks. Work in 20-50 minute time periods followed by a brief break of 5-10 minutes. During the break, do something different from what you've been doing, like walking around if you've been sitting or going to a different area.
- Find a Study Partner. Find someone that cares about their scholastic performance. Discuss exam topics with them and quiz each other. You may need a different study partner from each class.
- Establish Rewards. After you complete a work session, do something enjoyable. Take a nap, call a friend or round up people to play a game. Create something to look forward to for when you're done.
- Get a Good Night's Sleep. The night before an exam, be sure to get plenty of sleep. Get up with time to spare. Make sure to eat a good breakfast or lunch. Go to the examination early. Be confident about it.
- Don't Stress. You've put in the work to prepare, so be positive about your potential grades. When you're taking a test, try not to stress. Once you finish the exam or turn in the paper or project, don't worry about the outcome.
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