I know, most of you reading this is are asking why am I writing about final exams in early November? Final exams are over a month away! While this is true I have found that I did best on the final exams that I started studying for early. In fact, here is the pan of attack that I used while in college to great success.
Step 1: Start Early and Small
I started to study for final exams about a month before the actual exam. That’s not saying I was pulling all-nighters every night up until the final, quite the opposite. I started out small, studying maybe an hour a night. This allowed me to slowly soak up the information. As the exam date came closer, I would up my study time. By the time I was spending a few hours a night studying, the professor had our review for the exam so I could then focus specifically on what was going to be on the exam.
Some reading may argue that I wasted my time studying things that weren’t going to be on the exam. For me, I needed to study a little bit over time. Think of studying like driving a car. You can’t get into a car an instantly be going 100 mph. That’s the equivalent of waiting until a few days before the exam to start studying. By studying the way I did, it was like getting in the car, letting it reach its operating temperature and then heading out, slowly getting the car up to speed. It may sound boring, but that’s how you keep a car running for 200,000+ miles and that’s how you consistently score well on final exams.
Step 2: Stop Studying the Night Before
I know, this might sound crazy, but it works. I’ve found that if I try to cram the night before the exam, I retain almost nothing. In fact, I still vividly remember sitting during the exam with my eyes closed trying to picture my notes from the night before. Most times, the image never came.
This also goes for studying while waiting for the professor. I see so many others reviewing their notes right before the exam. I never retain that information so I don’t bother reviewing them. I sit there and stay relaxed, knowing that I am prepared.
Taking the “night off” from studying allows you to let your mind and body recharge before the exam. If you studied well up to this point, you should not fear losing any of the information you learned. You won’t.
Step 3: Get a Good Night Sleep/Eat Breakfast
Getting to bed at a reasonable time (meaning you get at least 8 hours) is essential. Same goes for eating a good breakfast. Having your body and mind fully rested and running at peak performance will allow you to perform your best on your exam.
Staying up all night cramming might help you remember a few key facts, but there is a good chance you won’t remember most of what you studied. This is because not only don’t you learn your best cramming like that, but without a good night’s rest, you won’t be able to think as well as you otherwise could.
Final exams can be a stressful time for most college students. By preparing as I have laid out above will allow you to be in peak condition and ready as you can be for your exam. You can go into the final confident that you know the material and will be able to apply it as needed. Good luck!