Healthful Hints: Finals Preparation: Study tips and strategies for time management as finals approach

Posted by Zoe Silver

Finals are nearing, and each of us is faced with the daunting task of completing a myriad of assignments, including 15-page research papers, cumulative exams and presentations. How in the world are we supposed to get all of this done before we pack up for the summer? More so, how are we supposed to concentrate when it's 80 degrees and sunny out? Hopefully some of the hints I will provide in this article will help you structure the end of your school year so that you can enjoy the sun and keep up your GPA.

First thing's first: if you don't know what finals you have for each class, get that information ASAP and write it into a calendar or program it into your phone. This way, you know exactly what's coming and can prepare in time. In fact, you should write all assignments and exams down in some sort of planner, which helps you to organize, plan and, ultimately, succeed.

Many of us will be faced with multiple finals per day. If you have three or more on one day, that is considered a conflict, and you should talk to your professors so you can reschedule one of them. If you have two in one day, make a study plan for each so that you can devote the necessary amount of time to both topics. Try allotting two days to studying for one exam, the next two days for the other and the third to review both, or something along those lines.

When you are studying, remove all distractions. Log off of Facebook and Twitter, turn your phone on silent and place yourself somewhere where you know you can concentrate. Some of us prefer to study in a dorm room with music in the background, and others work best in the quiet library. Library hours are also extended during finals week. A full list of extended hours is available on the library's website.

Take breaks every 20 minutes or so to get a glass of water, take a brief walk or do something else to clear your mind for five minutes so that you can fully engage yourself in the material. If you don't know which strategy works best for you, try out different combinations until you reach maximum efficiency. Part of adjusting to college life is learning what study habits work best for you, and we all do this at a different pace.

If you are really struggling to concentrate, Student Academic Services (SAS) is a great resource. You can visit the office or just check it out on the Skidmore website, where there are many study and testing tips. Along with these tips, SAS also offers peer tutoring, individual academic support and study groups. Do not hesitate to utilize this resource when you need help. It is also often helpful to go to your professor's office hours. A one-on-one session might clear up any issues you are having with the class material.

Before final exams (or any exam for that matter), be sure to get plenty of sleep. Studies in Health Psychology have shown that less than 8 hours of sleep the night before an exam results in extremely limited brain-activity during the test and usually lower scores. If you must cram the material, do so two nights before the exam, not the night before.

When you arrive at the classroom where you are taking the test, try to sit in the same seat you do during lectures. This may sound like a silly trick but it is scientifically believed that if you are tested in the same environment in which you learned the information, you are more likely to remember it.

Remember to put everything in perspective; this is just an exam, it will not decide anything greater in your life, nor will it have any huge effect on you. Just relax and show your professor what you can do. If you studied and rested up, chances are you are in good standing.

I wish you all the best of luck in the coming weeks! Until next time, sleep tight, study hard and enjoy the warm weather.

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