written by: Winston Smith•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/9/2011
Do you need tips for college finals, to study successfully and reduce your stress? There are five key strategies to study for college finals: creating a study plan, selecting a good study space, reviewing past exams and tests, finding study groups, and advice on how to survive finals week itself.
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Create a Study Plan
Studying for final exams is scary, especially if you're new to college. In many cases, finals are the largest part of your final grade.
If you have a study plan to guide your preparations, you will be much more relaxed and successful. Following a study plan will also reduce anxiety and put you in control of finals rather than the other way around. To get the best results from the planning process, create the plan about four to six weeks from the first day of finals.
To create your study plan, start with your syllabi and course outlines. Count how many units of material will be covered on the exam. Then allocate a set unit of time per unit (e.g. an hour per unit) to get reacquainted with the material. For example, say your History exam has ten units of testable material. Ten hours of studying for a course spread out over five weeks is only two hours a week.
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Select a Study Place
Though it is possible to study with loud roommates and the television on in the background, studying in such a setting will be difficult. It is far better to find a quiet place on campus, such as a library, where you can focus on studying for an hour or two and then head home and relax. Whatever study space you choose should be quiet, well lit and have few or no distractions. One hour of focused studying in the library beats several hours of unfocused studying in front of the TV.
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Review Old Tests and Exams
Lecture notes, readings and textbooks can only take you so far. Students tend to retain more from active studying methods that involve writing out materials and speaking information. One of the best active study methods is to find old exams and tests from previous years and then take them with the same time constraints as you would have in the exam room. If you do not know where to find past exams, ask your professors, campus librarians or your local student association.
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Consider A Study Group
Properly run study groups with motivated students are great if you can find them. You may even get some tips for taking college finals in your area (e.g. the best way to memorize French vocabulary or math equations) from others. Walk away from the gathering if the group is not focused on preparing for finals. Remember, you can socialize and have fun once you finish studying.
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Tips For Finals Week
Using these tips for college finals you should be well prepared and have no need to cram and lose sleep when finals week arrives. During finals week, set your mind at ease by finding out exactly where each of your finals will be held and find out how long it will take you to get to each location. If you live with other people, make sure they know in advance what days you have finals on so that you can get sleep at a reasonable hour.