Navigating your finals starts with personalizing the way you spend your weeks leading up to finals week. In this article, I will talk about some ways you can prepare for final exams while avoiding unnecessary anxiety and stress:
By Jessica Kwandou
Prioritize Certain Topic Areas: Review past exams to not only understand the format and type of questions asked but also identify which areas you may have weaknesses in. Ask your teacher for an outline on which topics the exam will test on, then make a list of what topics you need to spend more time reviewing. This will help you to be more efficient with your study time and focus your studying on relevant material.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and regular exercise can significantly improve concentration and memory retention. This can mean going on a nature walk during study breaks, studying at coffee shops/different environments, or changing your study schedule from staying up late to cram last-minute studying to waking up early with a fresh mind and productive mindset. It is best to avoid excessive caffeine and junk food, which can lead to energy crashes.
Consider your learning style: Try taking a learning style test or self-reflecting on how you learn best, whether it is auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc. Instead of passively reading notes, try to engage in active learning. This can include creating flashcards, teaching concepts to a friend, or doing practice exams. These methods have been proven in studies to help retain information more effectively.
Utilize Resources: Your school might offer tutoring services, study groups, or workshops during finals week. These resources can provide additional support because many people will be in the same boat as you.
Believe in Yourself: Confidence plays a key role in success. Believe in your ability to succeed and visualize achieving your goals.
Taking finals taught me a valuable lesson: it's not always expected to achieve an "A" or a high mark. The nature of final exams and the grading system often mean that not everyone will score high marks. This realization came to me after I was unable to complete my math exam for one year. I was accustomed to doing well and finishing exams with time to spare, so not completing a question was a new and unsettling experience for me. It led to self-doubt and concern about my abilities.
However, after discussing with peers, I discovered that many of us faced the same challenge; the exam was tougher than anticipated. This was a crucial learning moment. I understood that it's important to be comfortable with not always succeeding and to recognize that things won't always go as planned. I tend to be hard on myself, and facing failure, especially after extensive preparation, is painful. However such experiences are essential for learning and personal growth. They teach resilience and the value of perseverance, even when the outcomes aren’t as expected.