Great Tips on Taking Final Exams

It's about that time of year again… for most students, the end of the semester is afoot, and many are getting ready for the dreaded period known as "Finals Week" (or what some would like to call, "Hell Week"). As somebody who occasionally speaks to and motivates college students, I'm going to make some useful time to help out my peeps out there who are about to go through this hellacious, yet rewarding period. As somber as it may sound, this period is usually what your previous 3-4 months culminate to, and you should never take it lightly.

Before I get into talking about these few tips, I'm going to say that if I knew what I was about to tell you now, I probably would've made the Dean's List in all of my years in college. it took me a while to really "figure it out" and know what it takes to be successful in college. And it wasn't until my senior year that I have applied a lot of these things that I am about to discuss, which was the year that I really excelled in college. I went from a 2.0 GPA when I was a Freshman, to a 3.74 GPA in my Final Semester.

Secondly, if you're reading this and you are not in college or high school and you're not about to take your finals… believe it or not, this article/blog post is for you as well. Although you may not be taking "final exams" anymore, there are (or will be) big projects or events that you have to get ready for that will have a HUGE determining factor on your "success", therefore, you have to be as ready and as well-prepared as you can possibly be. Life in itself has several "final exams", and you can apply a lot of what I'm going to write about in whatever you have going on (the have no transcript telling you what your "final grade" is… either you, or your results will have to determine that).

I will also say that a lot of these tips are not designed for you to fry your brain, lock yourself in your dorm room, and bury your head studying. In my opinion, if you do that, you are just setting yourself up for failure. These tips that I'll offer are great, refreshing, and maybe to a lot of you… an "out-of-the box" approach in preparation for taking final exams, or whatever big thing you have going on in life.

So without further ado, here are just a few of the tips that helped me prepare for Finals Week…

  • TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY! In the days leading up to Finals Week (usually the last 1 or 2 weeks of classes) you would want to pay attention in your classes. And the reason why is that your professors and TAs will likely share relevant information as to what's going to be in the final. They'll either give you detailed review sheets that you can look at (which in many cases, will pretty much outline your exam), or they're going to give you information on when they will hold a "review session", in which they'll tell you what to study (and what not to study). More often than not, the teachers will have their exams written by then, and the content they focus on in these review sessions will likely be what their exams are going to be. So you will want to attend those "review sessions" as much as possible. Supplementally, if possible, if your professor or TA will be holding "office hours" during the days leading up to finals… take advantage of them! By showing up in their "office hours" you are really showing them that you care about this exam and that you really want to pass, and that factor can come into play when they are grading your exam and they have to give you your final grade. Not to mention, you can ask them specific questions that address your concerns, and you may get good insight from them regarding your test that you probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
  • FORM STUDY GROUPS! Study groups are pretty much "mastermind" groups for colleges. Find people who are around your level, but ALSO invite those who are a step or two above or below you intellectually in the subject matter. To address the latter (of inviting others intellectually above or below you), you may be strong where they may be weak. For example, if you invite an excelling off campus-student to your study group, he can offer you insights on how and why he is excelling, while you (or others in your group) are offering him acceptance on campus, and possibly friendship (which is important to people who commute and don't have too much time to make friends around campus, believe me, I know). On the other side of the spectrum, you can invite a popular student on the brink of failing the subject you're studying to your group, and by helping him succeed, he can also help your "social status" (if that's what you're into). The point is, EVERYBODY always has something to offer to ANYONE, and we can use each other's strengths to help build on each others' weaknesses. That's a universal rule, not only in college, but also in life. Believe me when I say that you're going to be forming (or be a part of) groups similar to this long after college is over.
  • FOLLOW YOUR ROUTINE. Although you may get a day or two to study for finals… treat it like any other school/work day, and don't waste it doing useless stuff, like excessive partying, video game playing, Facebooking, or in many cases, over cramming. Use the "review sessions" and study groups and approach them as an opportunity to learn, as you would in any of your other classes on a normal day. And if you have a job while in school, you don't need to take extra time off just to study for a test. Work the same hours you have been working (no more and no less), and mix that up with your studying like you usually do. The reason why, is if you stay focused on what you already have going on daily, that can help you focus on what's important when it comes to exam time. As far as over-cramming is concerned, you shouldn't take too much time frying your brain trying to study for the test. You're going to need your brain come test time.
  • TAKE BREAKS AND HAVE FUN!!! Like I said, frying your brain while studying is never good for you, so it's healthy to take a break every once in a while. Have lunch, work out, meditate, play video games with your friends, go talk to your girlfriend… whatever. Do what you have to do to take some time to re-charge your batteries. But like I said, don't take too much time to do those things and don't do them excessively. Too much of anything is bad, and you have to have a good balance to get your mind right. Not to mention, your goal at hand is to excel in your exam so you get through the semester! You must stay focused on that.
  • Most importantly… GET SOME REST! Try to get a good amount of sleep the night before your final(s). Don't stay out too late, nor pull "all-nighters" studying for tests. You're actually doing yourself a detriment by doing that. If you have more than one final during the day… scan your notes, but also don't forget to meditate, or take a power nap in between exams. If applicable, say a little prayer or two on the way. (Yes, I believe spirituality can also help get your mind right). You want to keep your mind clear, yet focused, and getting some much needed rest will help you do all of that.
Those are the 5 important things that I feel you can focus on as far as studying for finals. As with everything, I could probably discuss more than these 5 things, but I do truly believe that if you apply these 5 things some way or another, I will guarantee that you'll do very well in your exams. And like I said, the advice I've given here is not limited to "test-taking" or to college or high school students. I guarantee that you can (and will) apply a lot of what I talked about in this blog in whatever you'll do (or are doing) in life.

So with that said, good luck, excel, and be awesome in all of your "tests".

D4P… PD!!!

1 comment:

  1. And then next semester around, start studying much earlier so that you don't have to cram!