While studying for finals, have you ever felt like you have already forgotten everything you learned during the quarter?
Problem: exams and “midterms make your brain
look like the fuzzy snow channel on TV,” says Shannon Houston, SOU student. The stress of all the hard work and effort students put into classes over a ten week period, then having it all come down to their performance during a two hour exam can feel overwhelming.
Maybe you already have a reliable routine in preparing for exams, but these seven tips below will help improve your academic success no matter what you’re already doing. It’s important to note that whether a month before, a week before, or the night before, expert studies indicate that students should begin preparing for exams the first day of the class. These tips will also help.
1) Attend Class Regularly: Class attendance determines a student’s success.
‘I don’t have to go to class today because I am not going to miss anything.’ Do you ever find yourself saying this? Even missing one class, especially on a quiz or exam day, can negatively affect your grades. In addition, for habitual absences professors can drop you from the class or reduce your overall grade by a letter. For example, if you have an A in the class, but you have four absences, then you would end up with a B. The class room environment encourages interaction and dialogue between professors and students, which helps solidify the key concepts laid out in each class’s objectives. Many professors encourage attendance with participation points, and you cannot participate if you are not
2) Take Good Notes: Having detailed notes from every class helps when writing an essay or preparing for an exam.
If you do not attend class, you could miss important information your professor gives that the textbook does not cover. Students often use the excuse, ‘I don’t take good notes,’ but this also has a remedy. You have three options. First, ask your professors’ permission to use an audio recorder and record each class session. This way you will not miss anything said in class. Second, get to know your peers, and you can ask them to have a copy of their notes. Finally, if you truly have difficulty with note taking, “SOU provides note taking accommodations,” as stated on their website. They do ask that you sign up at least a week and a half before the class begins. If you take good notes, sign up to be a classmate’s note- taker and earn a $50 gift certificate.
3) Set Aside Regular Study Sessions: Make a study schedule for each class, and stick to it.
It is important not to let anything interrupt you while studying. Find a quiet place, when your mind is feeling fresh and alert, and commit a certain amount of time to reviewing the material and notes from class. The key lies in the quality of the study session, not how much time you spend. Therefore, avoid studying when feeling tired in order to make the most use of your time.
4) Do Your Homework: This probably seems obvious to most, but many students do not see the value in work assigned outside of the classroom.
Completing these assignments can be a key indicator of your success in a class. They help reinforce the concepts the professor covers during lectures, increasing the students’ ability to retain the material. Just like for studying, set aside specific times to complete your homework assignments before their due date. Some professors accept late home work, with a deduction in points, while others do not allow them and assign a zero instead. The general rule is for every hour in class you have two hours of homework.
5) Meditate: Often, clearing your mind provides a simple way to reduce stress.
You may be worried about the exam tomorrow, the argument you had with your roommate this morning, or what you feel like cooking for dinner tonight. That is because the mind has the ability to travel through time with memory and get stuck there. Meditation gives people the tools to bring their mind to present moment awareness—making your mind receptive.
You can approach meditation in a variety of ways. Many people do not feel comfortable sitting still, listening to their breath, and concentrating on letting thoughts go. Moving meditation allows people to bring their mind to the present moment through walking or moving consciously and opening up the flow of energy within the body. You can attend on of the weekly on campus “Mindfulness” drop in meetings and gain valuable skills that will help you achieve present moment awareness. SOU also offers meditation courses for students interested in learning the practice, or you can just learn what methods other people use and develop the style that is right for you. Once you develop the skills, you can practice meditation anywhere to help relieve stress!
6) Get Enough Sleep: Late nights and early mornings do not allow enough time for the body and mind to rest.
Instead of staying up late cramming for an exam, try going to bed and waking up early so you can study when your mind is freshest. Figure out how many hours you require of sleep in order to feel rested, allow for time to fall asleep, and go to bed that many hours before you have to get up. If you insist on keeping late nights, try to pick classes that begin later in the day, ensuring you get enough sleep.
7) Solution: “Pizza and Cookie Dough.”
Shannon Houston says “just remember kids: any pizza is a personal pizza if you believe in yourself.” Take a break when you can to enjoy yourself and do the things you like. You deserve it after all of the hard work and effort you put into attending classes, completing your assignments, and studying for exams. Whatever your study routine may be, if you do not have confidence in yourself, you will have a difficult time achieving academic success.
Finally, remember the earlier you start preparing for an exam, the less stress you will experience.