Hillsdale is hard. Not properly preparing for finals makes it harder. However, while strength rejoices in the challenge, it also knows when to find help.
As finals loom over the end of the semester as a sort of trial before Christmas break, here are a few tips to help you succeed.
Start as early as you can
Hell week may make you think you will never have a life again, but the sooner you can start to study for finals, the easier your finals week will be. This especially applies to language classes and literature classes where there isn’t time to absorb all the information. Vocabulary takes time to learn, so putting it off until right before finals can hurt your grade. Great literature takes some time to read and absorb, so stay on top of your Heritage reader or Great Books assignments.
Take the study guide seriously
If you have a study guide, you can be assured that your professor put time and thought into making it. The study guide is designed to help direct your attention to what the professor thought was most important. Taking the time to make sure you understand all the material listed can help prevent test time surprises.
Look at midterm exams
Any previous exams that you have taken show what your professors previously thought was important. Review old tests to have an idea of what may return on the final. Your professors will likely want to emphasize the material again at the end of the semester. In fact, some professors even repeat questions from their midterms on their finals.
Review your notes for the whole semester
This may seem like more trouble than it’s worth, but reviewing the semester’s notes helps to refresh the material in your mind. This can help you to remember information that the professor may have left off of previous exams. A quick way to review notes is to talk through them out loud and explain them. If you can strengthen the neural connections to the material in your mind, you’ll have an easier time recalling the material during the test.
Adjust your schedule if necessary
If you have several finals on one day, see if a professor will let you take a final with another section or in his office. Your professors want you to succeed, so if you have multiple finals on one day, a professor may be nice enough to let you take it on another day. This can help spread out your study schedule so you aren’t too busy on one day.
When studying, take the time to list out what you actually need to know so you aren’t overwhelmed. Whenever you eliminate ambiguity, you free up your mind to focus on details. Rather than aimlessly working through the material you think might be on the test, take 30 minutes or so to create a study path for a final. You can always change it if you need to, but having a path lets you work intentionally.
If you have fifteen minutes, you probably have time to work on a small chunk of information. Even if it’s just reviewing a historical figure or working on vocabulary, using your downtime to tackle a small amount of information will help you to use your time to study efficiently.
Find social balance.
While studying for finals, it’s important for your wellbeing to talk with your friends, but try not to avoid studying. If you take the time to study and learn the material, finals can be an enjoyable time.
Hopefully, these tips help you to have a less stressful, more successful finals week. Academic success requires perseverance and strategy and these tips should help you on your way.