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Ace Your Finals with These Eight Strategies

It's that time of the semester again. Finals week. No matter how hard you've worked or how much you've studied for the past 15 weeks, you're probably dreading this last set of exams.

We understand that finals are stressful, so we've provided a few key tips for making the most out of your study time this week:

1. Prioritize!
You know your classes better than anyone. Are you struggling with philosophy but really enjoying media and society? It's easy to end up spending more time on the courses you enjoy while avoiding the ones you're nervous about. This, of course, is counterproductive during finals week. Make a list of all the work you have left and then rate your current comfort level with the material for each class. This will make it easier to prioritize the classes you don't feel as prepared for.

2. Make a study schedule.
Don't skip this step! You already have a list of all the work you need to do; now break those projects/papers/exams into manageable chunks. ("Study for chemistry exam" could be broken into "make terms list, review chapters 9-10, create flash cards, and review lab notes," for example.) Using a paper planner or your to-do list app of choice, make a schedule for when you plan to work on each task. Be realistic (don't just leave yourself two hours to write a 15-page paper on Aristotle), stick to the schedule, and don't forget to leave space for breaks. Your brain can only handle so much information at a time.

3. Re-write your notes.
When you review your notes from the past semester, don't just re-read. Have them open on one side of the table with a new notebook or your computer on the other side. As you look back over your old notes, re-write important concepts and definitions in your new notes. Writing things again will help keep them fresh in your mind.

4. Test your knowledge.
Give your brain a chance to practice recalling information on its own before you have to sit down for the test. You can create flash cards the traditional way (with index cards) or digitally (with an app like Quizlet). If your professor provided a study guide, you can simply transfer those concepts to flash cards and use them to test your knowledge.

5. Teach someone else.
They say teaching something is the best way to learn it. Grab a friend and take turns explaining concepts from your classes to one another. If you'd rather practice on your own, find an empty space (dorm, classroom, etc.) and pretend like you are explaining the material to a class of students. Try referencing your notes as little as possible, and if it feels weird at first, just remember you'll thank yourself once it's time for the exam.

6. Get rid of the distractions.
Distracted studying is less productive and takes longer. If you can, turn off your phone (and place it out of sight). If you're worried you won't be able to stay off social media, have someone you trust change your password so you can't access your account until after finals are over.

7. Stay healthy.
It may seem like you have so much to study and so little time to do it, but your brain won't function properly if you're not sleeping or eating well. Pulling all-nighters and eating junk food, therefore, is probably not the wisest decision. Take some time to leave your study area and go for a walk - outside or at the rec - for at least a few minutes every day. This will help relieve stress and give your brain time to recharge before your next task.

8. Just do it!
Sometimes starting is the hardest part, but the sooner you do it, the better your chances of acing those final exams!

Good luck! We're rooting for you.