How to Study Before Finals

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Cecilie Nag

The semester is rushing towards the end. The last day of regular classes is December 12th, and from December 15th through December 21st, it’s finals time.

Quiet hours are coming into effect in the residence halls starting on December 12th, with a mission to provide the on-campus students with a study-friendly environment. The library offers extended hours between December 5th through December 20th, to let the students come in earlier and stay late. For an overview of the longer opening hours, check out http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/libhourx.htm.

With late nights, early mornings, pages to read and papers to write, students are preparing for finals in different ways. Some feel in control, having worked steadily throughout the semester, while others are beginning to feel the pressure, as procrastination has been a habit during the semester. Here are five study tips to make your preparations for final exams easier, well managed, and hopefully lead to a great result.

1. Plan ahead: Free your schedule as much as possible. Ask for fewer hours at work, and eliminate other responsibilities. Time-management is important. Make a schedule including final dates and material to cover. Make appointments at the Student Writing Center if you need to, but don´t forget to take breaks in between your work.

Plenty of students have the habit of studying for hours and hours during the last days before a final. Divide the work you need to do for each different final into blocks of a couple hours a day, as soon as you get the final review. You´ll get into great habits, and you won´t get tired of studying the same subject all day before the exam.  Also, you will have time to ask your professor for help if there are any problems or confusions.

2. Make study appointments: Create a motivational atmosphere where you get together with friends and classmates to review chapters, and solve problems together. Help each other, and find motivation through seeing other people studying. Gather in a place where the distractions are few, and find out where you have the best chance of keeping your concentration. Make appointments for study times, and make agreements for rewards and breaks throughout the studying. If you study better alone, you can still have agreements with friends about breaks, and study times. It´s easier to study when you know others are doing it as well.

3. Avoid Facebook when studying: A couple of minutes on Facebook can soon turn into a couple of hours, especially when you´re getting tired of homework and books. For Macintosh-users there´s a free application called SelfControl, designed to block access to websites for a predetermined period of time. It allows you to limit your access to selected pages, while still being able to access the rest of the Internet. Read more about it, and download the application at http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/31289/selfcontrol. Or else, make an agreement with yourself to stay away from selected pages until you have finished studying for the day.

4. Vary your study location: Do not always study in the same place. Vary your location in the library, study in different environments, and rooms, and your brain will better remember the material you are trying to learn. It could also help improve your motivation, so you don’t get tired of staying in the same environment all the time.  Read the whole article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/health/views/07mind.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1&ref=homepage&src=me

5. Take care of yourself: Don´t forget to sleep! Allow yourself to take breaks, remember to eat and drink enough to keep your head in focus. Reward yourself with a break when you have reached a goal, and let yourself have a couple of hours during which you avoid thinking about school work and finals. Watch your favorite TV show, spend an hour at the gym, do something fun with your friends; find something to look forward to in between your hours of studying. Allow your mind to relax for a while.

Sophomore transfer Finance major from Norway, Vibeke Aarstad, is getting ready for her first final exams in America.  “My plan is to review class notes, looking over tests we´ve had during the semester and spend extra time on parts I had problems with,” she said. She has been studying throughout the semester, and feels that she is ready to take on the last weeks of preparations before the final exams.

Junior Marketing major Emma Reinli prepares for finals by rewriting her notes, reviewing textbooks, and creating flashcards. “For me, the most effective way of studying is writing things down again and again,” she said.

Her biggest problem is finding time for sleep and food in the last weeks before finals. “I don´t sleep,” she said. “I just study as much as I can possibly do, spend as much time as I feel I need on each subject, and try not to think about everything else I have to study for,” she explained. Usually located in the study lounge at Hillwood Commons or at the Chapel, she is most comfortable studying by herself. “I study somewhere that´s not too quiet, but not noisy, and somewhere where the lights are bright.”

There are only a couple of weeks left until the winter break begins. Hopefully these study tips will give you some advice and motivation to perform your best on your final exams. Good luck!

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