Final exams can be a nightmare for many students as they can cause extreme stress. It is common for students to get frazzled during the final exam period, considering finals are the most challenging and are worth a large portion of their grade.
Do you tend to feel burnout around the final exams time?
I am going to share effective study tips to craft a smooth and stress-free exam process. Implementing the right study strategies provides you with the opportunity to gain confidence in your course material with minimal stress. The following are the steps that you should follow when preparing for final exams:
Step 1: Prioritization
Do not wait till the last minute! It is crucial to start at least two weeks before the exam. Ensuring this will give you sufficient time to prepare. Prior to creating a study schedule, identify what material will be tested on the exam for each course. For example, is the exam cumulative or will it only consist of post-midterm chapters? Utilize the Academic Success Centre’s final exam inventory sheet to estimate how much time to spend on each course depending on the amount of content and difficulty level. For instance, if you feel that you are confident in chapters 6, 7, and 8, then you may want to spend approximately 3 hours reviewing these chapters. Whereas for the chapters you find difficult, you may want to spend more time in order to learn the content properly. Repeat the same process for all of your courses to determine the amount of time you need to dedicate to each of your courses.
Step 2: Creating a study schedule
A study schedule is a comprehensive version of a timetable as it takes into account priority for each course. Based on the exam inventory sheet, you should have determined the difficulty level for each subject, the amount of content, and the estimated time to cover the required material. Next, use the Academic Success Centre’s Seven-Day Planner which enables you to plan your day hour by hour to maximize your success in meeting deadlines and commitments. Incorporate your study schedule in your Seven-Day Planner by blocking the time for studying. You may want to schedule studying for one easy course and one demanding course on the same day, to avoid getting overwhelmed. A well thought-out study schedule will boost your productivity and enhance your learning experience.
Step 3: Pomodoro Technique
Now that you have a study schedule in place for your final exams, you should try to follow the Pomodoro method to make your study sessions productive. The Pomodoro technique uses a timer to break your study sessions into smaller intervals. They are traditionally 25 minutes in length with a 5-minute break after each interval. This technique increases your focus immensely since the focus is on the task at hand. It also eliminates burnout as the short scheduled breaks prevent the feeling of “running on fumes” when you push yourself to work nonstop.
Step 4: Testing Your Knowledge
Final exams are mainly comprised of application questions requiring you to have a deeper understanding of the content. This means you must thoroughly understand the topics and apply your knowledge to solve problems. There are numerous learning strategies to choose from that will help you master your course material. Here are some of the most effective studying techniques you may want to consider.
- Practicing a mock exam
Mock exams are similar to the actual exams. Practicing mock exams provides you with an idea of what it would be like to write an actual exam. It enables you to examine your knowledge of your content as the questions have relatively the same difficulty level. Additionally, it consists of all the syllabus material that will be covered in an actual exam. Furthermore, you learn to use your time efficiently by checking if you were able to solve the questions within the time frame. Analyze your overall performance in the mock exam to build a plan to perform better in the actual exam.
- Learn by teaching
Teaching the course material to others will allow you to assess your knowledge of the subject. You may teach the concepts to a friend, a child, or even a toy. When you attempt to explain the concepts to others you recognize the concepts you are unclear about or the gaps you might have in your understanding. Teaching others will enhance your understanding of the concept and will assist you in retaining the information more effectively.
- Group study
Studying in a group accelerates your learning as you actively engage in discussions, compare notes, and quiz each other. Group studies bring together unique perspectives to the concepts making the study sessions enjoyable and fruitful. You will be able to fill in learning gaps by comparing your notes with other group members for accuracy. You may want to fix any errors or include missing details. Moreover, quizzes from group members help to test your understanding of the concepts.
Step 5: Get ready to write your exam
On exam day, you must feel relaxed and mentally prepared to write the exam. Eat a proper healthy meal and go out for a walk to relieve anxiety and improve your mood. Show up to the exam location at least 10 minutes early with all the required materials. If your exam is virtual, then test your technology to ensure it works well and sit in a quiet place to prevent distractions during the exam.
Support from the Academic Success Centre (“ASC”) at Ted Rogers School of Management
The ASC strives to help students achieve their academic potential through various services and programs. Some of the most popular ones include tutoring sessions to master the course-specific material, Peer Coaching to revamp learning strategies, and Learning and Accountability Coaching sessions for a productive workspace using the Pomodoro-style studying.