By Danika McClure
Finals week is a stressful time for students, no matter how far they are in their educational journey. Properly preparing for final exams is no easy task, and the process often leaves students stressed out and sleep deprived–neither of which are optimal for student success.
While there’s no surefire way to ensure that each student will be able to ace their final exams, there are a number of effective learning strategies that will help students put their best foot forward during final exam week.
Harness Your Own Unique Way of Learning
In 1983, Howard Gardner published his now well-known theory about “Multiple Intelligences,” in which he unveiled his belief that people rely on a variety of skills in order to master difficult subjects. From there, he identified seven core “intelligences” that people use to learn. What does that mean?
“While the conventional method of lecture and note-taking works for some students, it bypasses the needs of many others,” Education.com author Cindy Donaldson writes. In difficult subjects, like math and the sciences, many students believe they’re not good at the subject–yet in reality, they may just need to harness a different way of learning in order to master the material.
In order to determine your unique style of learning, try taking this self-assessment. From there, you can develop new techniques in order to maximize your study time.
Study with Partners
Studying with a partner is a surefire way to gain new learning skills and help you to better understand complex concepts and problems. Since each person has their own unique learning style, studying with a partner may help introduce you to new ways of thinking about difficult concepts and help to balance out each other’s shortfalls in understanding. Studying with an additional person can also motivate you to work towards your study goals and avoid procrastination.
If you’re struggling to connect with your classmates or need more advanced help, there are other of course other options available. Professors and T.A.s are typically available in the weeks before finals to help you prepare, and there are professional tutoring services available to help students no matter their age or ability.
With college admittance comes high academic expectations, a new level of independence, and more challenging work than most students are prepared for. It’s no surprise then that college students are more stressed out than ever before. Stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways that impact both your academic life, your physical health, and your social relationships.
It’s important that students learn how to healthily manage their stress in order to succeed academically. In order to manage that stress, students ought to be cognizant about the amount of effort they put into their work, and balance that with other important aspects of their life. Rest, socialization, exercise, and healthy eating are all aspects that are equally important to studying.
Scientists have gone to great lengths to prove that a good night’s sleep is an essential ingredient to healthy living. Despite this, in college campuses across the country, the all-nighter continues to be a popular study tool. Studies prove, however, that pulling all-nighters does more harm than good.
A 2008 study by Pamela Thatcher at St. Lawrence University found that all-nighters impair reasoning and memory for “as long as four days,”–which is hardly ideal for optimal studying. Instead, Dan Taylor of the University of North Texas suggests that students review the most challenging materials the night before their final exam and get a good night’s rest.
Alternate Your Study Location
Recent analysis by New York Times author Benedict Carey find that much about what we know regarding effective study habits is wrong, including the location in which students best learn. For instance, instead of choosing one place to study for an entire semester, alternating the room where a person studies has proven to improve retention.
In one experiment, psychologists found that college students who alternated study rooms did far better on vocabulary exams than those who studied in the same room. While studying, the brain associates location and background with material learned. Therefore, if you study the same information in two different environments, retention becomes much easier. For maximum retention of course material, it’s best that you break up study habits in multiple locations conducive to studying.
Preparing for finals is a necessary and difficult task that many students struggle with throughout their educational journey. However, with proper preparation, healthy living habits, and strategies for success, any student can find a study routine to ensure success in their final exams.