Tips on how to avoid stress and succeed in final exams
Sleep-deprivation. Countless hours of studying. The struggle of maintaining focus. The anticipation and stress that builds upon a student when those final exams come around is something that can be overbearing, almost like carrying a big boulder of anxiety on your shoulders.
The worry of not having enough time to prepare yourself for finals has been looming over student’s mind as the month of December passes on. Now that finals have been pushed before winter break and so close to the holidays, many students are troubled with prominent stress-cloud of the short time-span to study. Nonetheless, there are techniques we can use to conquer the most stressful time of the year: Finals season.
Space out your studying
Now that students no longer have the two weeks of winter break to start studying in advance, it’s essential for them to focus on balancing their time well. Math teacher Andrea Willis advised students to start review as early as possible. “Break it up piece by piece and maybe up to 5 review questions a night so then it’s not as overwhelming in addition to your other homework,” she said.
Business teacher Matthew Marks teaches Study Skills and suggested to start studying whenever you have a little extra time. “Maximize the time you have during school to be productive, especially if you’re one that doesn’t work well on your own outside of school,” he said.
Avoid cramming in last minute studying
According to research done by UCLA on high school students’ study habits, cramming tended to be followed by more academic problems the next few days because of the lack of sleep associated with it.
Although using the method of cramming for studying the day before the exam seems like a good idea, it doesn’t always quite work out as well. “It’s been scientifically proven that cramming might help a student remember something for the next day, but if they want to actually attain that knowledge and keep it in their head, studying for short periods over a long stretch of time is helpful,” Marks said .
Create a study schedule
One of the most effective tools is to create a schedule that maps out your studying, so you have a guideline and game plan to follow. “The most important thing is making a calendar and sticking with that and having time to review everything again and going over the thing that you struggle with,” Willis said.
Austin Sobey, guidance counselor for Red Team, also mentioned that the best thing students can do is creating a study plan. “Even just trying that old school technique of writing your schedule down in a notebook can help,” he said.
For example, take an hour to study for English, take a small break and then start a new subject. But it’s also important to stick with that daily schedule and to not go off track. According to the educationcorner website, maintaining a daily study schedule helps as well: “You’ll be mentally and emotionally more prepared for each study session and each study session will become more productive.”
Stay focused and maintain a goal
Distractions and procrastination are the biggest obstacles when it comes to studying for finals. With the constant notifications from social media, it can be hard to put our phones aside for studying. Marks said that the best methods to avoid distractions is to put your phone away and study in a quiet environment.
Sobey suggests that if you’re having trouble concentrating on one subject for too long, switch to another one because this way you won’t lose your focus. He mentioned that it can be hard to maintain focus while studying but that you should have the reminder of your long term goals in mind to motivate you.
Marks also mentioned that “students can give themselves motivating factors, whether that’s an internal motivator that the student wants the specific good grade, or it could be an external motivator like ‘after I get a good grade on my final, it’s winter break.’”
Stay well-rested and healthy
During finals we tend to over stress ourselves and not take any breaks. “Your health and mental awareness is huge…not just for finals but this whole month; if you’re lacking on sleep, you’re not going to be nearly as focused or motivated,” Marks said.
Sobey also mentioned that it’s less stressful if you learn how to manage your time properly. “The holidays can be stressful for a lot of students so just making sure that you’re allowing the appropriate time for subjects in advance,” he said.
“After long study sessions give yourself a break. “It’s important that you take time to do those things that help you cope with that stress. It’s understanding what you’re interested in and building that into your schedule,” Sobey said.
“I think that in this last home stretch, in this last month of December, they just need to keep their focus on school, keep their motivation on an all-time high and really push through,“ Marks said.