Hayden Seay, Chattanooga, Tenn., — As the fall semester begins to wind down and final exams are on the horizon, students are trying to find ways to make studying easier.
“The final exam period is so different from any time of the year,” said Dr. Mary Roland, the director of Center for Advisement and Student Success. “We have exams due, papers that are due, simultaneously. What I tell students is change your sleeping habits as much as you can. You need to eat properly, change your work [schedule]. I will reiterate, please do not stay up all night.”
Roland provides 12 tips to help students do well on their finals:
1. Find out about the test. Find out if the format is similar to your previous exams, and then find out if it is different and how it is.
2. Determine where to put your efforts. Find out how much each test is worth.
“I’m a music major, so practicing is very important,” said Erik Gehrke, a junior from Chattanooga. “If you want to get good grades, you have to learn to be good at whatever you are studying. You have to have some amount of care for the subject.”
3. Use short and long term study periods. Study in 45-50 minute intervals, so you do not burn yourself out. If you get bored studying, switch to another subject.
4. Set and stick to study deadlines, which means have a study schedule for each day.
5. Study the most difficult and oldest material first, because these subjects will take most of your energy.
“Do it from the get-go, and start it as early as possible,” said Michael Isaacs, a senior from Franklin, Tenn. “I’m a philosophy major, so it is usually reading-intensive. If you have a question, ask. Most teachers are pretty open to helping.”
6. Make a final study schedule, specifically around eight to 10 days before a comprehensive exam, and study a little for each day. For exams that are not comprehensive, Roland suggests allowing five to six days to study.
“I start studying for tests about a week out,” said senior Ann-Marie Anderson, Cookeville, Tenn. “I suggest that, so you don’t rush yourself at the last minute.”
7. Use study strategies such as predicting similar questions and what types of questions the professor will give. Review your old exams and quizzes, and summarize and study your notes.
8. Prepare according to the exam. If the exam includes multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions, know the keywords. For essay exams, if you know what the essay will cover, prepare beforehand by writing a sample response. Roland suggests writing down notes during the essay, and tie it all together.
9. Attend any supplemental instruction sessions for your courses, and form a study group.
10. “Study in the library,” Roland said, “It helps minimize distraction, and there is something about that enthusiasm and devotion to studying for finals as you see so many other students there.”
11. Use memory enhancers, such as flash cards, summary sheets, outlines of topics and use practice tests, as well as study guides and mnemonic devices such as “please excuse my dear aunt Sally,” or “PEMDAS,” which stands for the order of operations when tackling math equations.
12. If you work, try to cut back your hours in the week or so before your finals. Wake up earlier and use that time to study.
“My last point is avoid cramming at all costs, because we encourage students to study all along the entire semester,” Roland said.