Study Strategies for Final Exams
The end of the school year is rapidly approaching, and exams are on the horizon. Final exams. AP exams. SAT and ACT exams. With so many impending tests, it is important to prepare yourself for success. Remember, your GPA is one of the most significant factors in college admissions, so take control in these last weeks of school. Here are some study strategies and techniques to ensure you can perform to the best of your ability.
1. Map out your testing schedule.
Use a calendar or planner and stick to it. You know when your exams take place, so write down the dates to keep yourself on track. Mapping out your schedule will also help prioritize your studying. Devote enough time to the classes and subjects that may pose more of a challenge for you.
2. Utilize your creativity.
Reviewing your notes is critical to studying for finals, but instead of rote/mechanical memorization, incorporate a little creativity into your approach. Doing so can help you retain more information and make the learning process more enjoyable. Depending on the type of learner you are, different techniques can yield different results. We’re all familiar with the power of flashcards, but adding pictures to them can pay off well for visual learners. If you learn well by doing, get moving as you study. Pace around your study space as you go over your notes or try acting out your notes using gestures or sounds. You could also record your notes in an engaging manner and listen to them, both of which will help your memorization process.
3. Study in a group.
Group study comes with a number of benefits. You can hold each other accountable; you can compare notes with one another and share different insights into the material. You can even quiz each other to help with immediate memory recall. Use these study sessions productively to reap the maximum rewards.
4. Pace yourself.
Studying in 30 to 45-minute intervals with a 5-minute break in between can keep you alert throughout your progress. Use a timer to keep track of things and avoid taking too long of a break. During your breaks, get up and loosen up your body or have a quick snack to fuel your brain. Stay away from activities that will distract you from your purpose; remember, you want to maintain your concentration. Taking breaks will also lessen the chances of you zoning out or falling asleep.
5. Optimize your study space.
To make the most of your time, eliminate any potential distractions. Find a well-lit place where you will not be interrupted. Mute or turn off any electronics that aren’t helping you fulfill your goals, and if you need to listen to music, instrumental music is probably best.
6. Avoid cramming or pulling all-nighters.
Avoid cramming like the plague. While some may point to the short-term benefits of cramming, it’s not an ideal method of studying. It not only makes the knowledge harder to retain over time but also tends to add unnecessary stress that can be mitigated through proper planning. Staying up all night to study can also lead to clouded thinking for the next day or two, and there’s nothing worse than taking a test while you’re tired or amped up on caffeine. Plan ahead and get some rest to perform at your best.
By following these techniques, you'll be able to enter the summer without regrets. You'll also instill good habits for the future, so implement these strategies today and finish the academic year on a positive note!
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Jon G. is originally from Houston, Texas. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Harvard University and is currently one of the resident English gurus at Elite Prep Los Angeles. Nothing makes him more proud and pumped up than watching his students succeed. When it comes to hitting the books, Jon recommends starting early and studying in increments to avoid burnout. He's a huge basketball fan, loves green tea, and his favorite vocabulary word is "seditious."