How to Win at Life: Finals Edition

While it may feel like the summer semester just started, finals are actually right around the corner. Here are three tips that will help you take your study-game to the next level—even if you’ve left things till the last minute:

1) Study smart, not long.

Studying smart means scheduling smart. Start by putting all of your final dates into a calendar and figuring out what your exam schedule actually looks like. If your exams are spread out, study for them as they come. If they are back-to-back, start studying for the most challenging exams first, even if they aren’t scheduled first; it’s always best to tackle the hard stuff straight away. Next, make sure you are 100% clear on which material you will be expected to know for the exam. This is an easy step to take, so don’t skip out on it. Even if you’re %95 sure, that leaves a %5 chance you’ll be faced with a long answer question on a chapter you didn’t prepare for at all, so don’t risk it. Finally, hit up professionally designed crash courses for the classes you know you’ll have the hardest time with. These tutorials have been specifically designed to break down the material for an easy-to-grasp delivery, and are hands-down the best way to get the most out of the time you spend studying.

2) Memorize, memorize, memorize.mimi

No matter how you slice it, memorization is going to play a huge role in how successful you are on your exam. Unfortunately memorization isn’t something with tons of shortcuts, so you’re going to have to put in some time for this one. Rewrite your notes as flashcards, partner up with a friend or classmate, and start quizzing one another. If you’re taking a crash course, even better: turn your crash notes into flashcards and you’ll be memorizing in no time. Make sure you handwrite your flashcards rather than typing; research shows that you’re more likely to remember things you’ve handwritten.

3) Access Past Exams

Going over past exams is a crucial study aid. Some courses have common exams, others will be professor-specific—find out, and get your hands on some ASAP. Going over past finals will help you understand how in-depth your knowledge of specific topics needs to be, and, if you can get your hands on ones that have already been graded, will also give you a sense of how your professor grades. Going over past exams will also help you pinpoint your own strengths and weaknesses, and give you a sense of the questions you should be asking your crash course tutor. There are different ways to go about this: you can ask friends who have taken the course in a previous semester, ask the professor or TA directly, or ask around at tutoring companies. If you try all three, you’ll get your hands on some no problem.


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