A month might sound like an eternity, but we all know that finals have a tendency to sneak up on us. It might seem a little aggressive to start “studying” with a month to go, but putting in a little extra work over the coming weeks can wind up making your finals week a breeze – or, at the very list, slightly breezier. After all, no one likes staying up until 3 AM, desperately cramming for the next day’s test. While you still have the advantage of time, use these tips and strategies to start preparing for your final exams in a much more relaxed, gradual manner.
Start figuring out what the exam will look like.
Some teachers don’t create their exams until closer to the end of the semester, but most already have them made (or at the very least, know what the format will be). Ask your teachers what to expect in terms of short answer, multiple choice, etc., and see if you can get an idea of what units or chapters will be focused on. This will help you prioritize and plan your overall study plan.
Lay out your relaxed, manageable study plan, and be specific.
If the final exam is going to cover 13 chapters, it’s much easier to read and outline 3-4 chapters a week slowly over the next month instead of hopelessly skimming 13 chapters the week of your exam. Sit down and map out what you’ll tackle over the coming days and weeks, and make sure you’re setting specific goals. You’ll be so thankful for this roadmap once finals are upon you.
Don’t procrastinate on your assigned reading and/or other work.
This goes hand in hand with our last point, but it’s crucial that you don’t slack on your readings or other assignments. By letting them pile up, you only add to your workload later on – or, worse, ensure you’ll be underprepared for your exam. Even when it’s the last thing you want to do, stay up-to-date with your reading and homework – and do practice questions whenever possible – and things will go much smoother.
Begin (or continue!) creating your study guides.
Everyone studies differently, but in general, making study guides are a smart move. As you read chapters, take quizzes, complete homework assignments, and so on, start compiling your study guide simultaneously. That means compiling list of vocab terms, key concepts, topics focused on in class, and anything else you think realistically might be included on the final. By creating these study guides as you go, you’ll just need to read them over (and over) when it’s go-time.
Ask for help on any topics that give you trouble.
Instead of breathing a sigh of relief when your teacher moves on from that concept you’re finding so tricky, focus on it! Reach out for extra help, whether that’s from a trusty classmate or your teacher, and make sure you’re spending some extra time mastering it. Don’t wait until the night before the test to try to figure out the things that tripped you up. Ask for help and address any confusion you have as you go along!
Prioritize the classes you find most challenging.
I’m certainly not advocating that you neglect your “easy A” classes, but you’ll naturally want to spend extra time working on the subjects that you find hardest. If you’re an English whiz and know you’ll ace your final essay, you might as well spend more of your time working on your harder classes now. As you create your study roadmap, it might seem logical to allot equal time to all of your courses, but that’s probably not necessary or wise.
Starting to prepare for your finals now, with a month yet to go, might seem like creating more work or stress for yourself. However – as you’ve likely heard 100 times from your teachers and parents – staying on top of your studying, reading, and assignments now will only make your life easier in the future. Not only will you retain more information by absorbing it gradually over time, you’ll minimize your own stress as you head into finals week.