The best techniques to help students prepare for finals

Alyssa Stencavage, Staff Writer

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Finals week is fast approaching, and that means one thing: lots of studying. Some specific and different, unique study habits exist out there, even songwriting to better remember information.

“When I study I like to make songs up so it’s easier to remember the material,” Miranda Godlewski, a freshman English and political science major said.

Other means of studying include listening to music while studying.

“When I study, it’s with music on,” Kate Wedman, a freshman communication studies major said.

It’s no surprise that making charts to organize information or using index cards are common strategies, especially for those who have to deal with biology or science on a daily basis.

“I use index cards, make charts to compare things especially for Bio, and organize important points into study guides and study quizzes and home works,” Kimberly Price, freshman biology major, said.

Reading over and writing the material is another way for students to prepare for exams.

“Writing the material usually helps me study. For bio I usually make charts to organize the material and study it. It also can’t be silent when I study because I will fall asleep,” Sarah Brozena, a freshman pre-pharmacy major, said.

Despite these common study patterns and techniques, some may still be wondering what the best strategies are. University College learning specialist Katy Betnar offers some helpful tips and advice for studying so students can effectively master their studying and reduce their stress at the same time.

Betnar suggests starting early, especially with cumulative finals, saying it’s not a good idea to cram. She  recommended that students begin studying two to three weeks in advance. They should figure out what and when things are going on and then form a management system and study plan, like a “divide and conquer” strategy.

“It is important to take a look at the big picture and start to break down piece by piece,” Betnar said.

Staying calm is also important. One way to do this is breathing exercises, which Betnar said is best for students to reduce test anxiety and get into the mental mindset of the test, as well as knowledge of the information.

Betnar also advises that students take last minute use of the tutoring facility, which shuts down during the last week of classes.

In order to prepare for finals, students should find out where they stand currently in their classes as far as grades, which can be done by consulting the syllabus and/or meeting with the teacher. Much of a student’s grade is determined before finals week.  She said knowing current grades can help with motivation and goals to boost grades and study harder.

Betnar also suggests simple habits like healthy eating and getting enough sleep, as she said not having a healthy lifestyle can affect mental sharpness.

“People forget the importance of eating and sleeping as well,” says Betnar. “A lot of students stay up late and they can be worse off, therefore keeping a balance of regular, sufficient sleep patterns is always good.”

Research shows that studying in shorter chunks of time and when one is more alert are among the most important ways to accomplish successful studying. Studying in 30 to 50-minute intervals with a 10-minute break is recommended. Betnar said students should figure out which learning strategies work for them, such as color-coding, flashcards, graphs, etc, and to stay organized.

Budgeting time and studying the hardest subjects first are some of the time management tips Betnar gave.

Other tips include finding a quiet place to study, identify what materials are going to be tested, if you don’t understand to ask for help, put together a study guide to collect and organize the material and practice self-testing. Another tip Betnar suggests when it comes to the end of the semester is to simply attend class.

Betnar said the final thing for preparing for finals is to visualize success, because after all, if one can see it, one can achieve it.

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