Study for Finals

Tuesday, April 28 is the last day of classes for the spring 2020 semester

With final exams quickly approaching, students are faced with the challenge of trying to balance their time while studying for multiple exams.

Because Tuesday, April 28 is the last day of classes, students are beginning to transition into a finals week mindset. Spring semester final examinations start online Thursday, April 30 and end Tuesday, May 5.

When it comes to planning study habits for these major exams, many students are at a loss for what to do. Tyler Laughlin, academic coach for the Academic Success Center, said students should practice good time management by planning out time to study in advance.

“This helps to ensure that you have enough time to work on the task a little every day with plenty of time to spare,” Laughlin said. “It’s much easier to sit down and know you have to work for 30 minutes over several days, and you’ll be done instead of being up until 3 a.m. cramming before your final exam.”

Rachel Wales, academic advisor for the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said setting up a structured study method may facilitate concentration.

“Pacing yourself and scheduling breaks can help with focus and help avoid burnout,” Wales said. “I liked to do ‘Study Marathons’ when I was in college – set a timer and study for 26 minutes, [and] then set another timer and take a break for four minutes. Repeat the cycle for the time you plan to study each day, setting small study goals during each marathon.”

A study plan that works for one person may not necessarily work for everyone, and students should choose a study method that is most effective for them, Wales said.

“Studying for an essay-based exam will be different from completing timed practice problems for a calculus exam,” Wales said. “You will probably need to schedule more time to study for your toughest courses or [for] a cumulative exam.”

While preparing for finals week, a common obstacle students tend to struggle with is procrastination. Laughlin said a way students can resist this urge is by first identifying the distractions and then setting up an effective work space to eliminate them.

“If you know you tend to watch YouTube instead of doing chemistry homework online, try a website blocker,” Laughlin said. “Put up roadblocks to give yourself a leg up on procrastination.”

While putting aside fun distractions is essential to efficiency, kinesiology junior Lexie Parrish said taking frequent breaks is also necessary to help get students’ minds off of their classes to avoid mental burnout before exams.

“If you start to feel overwhelmed, just take a minute for yourself,” Parrish said. “Remind yourself that it’s okay not to spend every minute of the day studying and do something that you find enjoyable.”

Wales said students should keep everything in perspective, and try to balance their time between both studying and relaxing.

“Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is sometimes easy to overlook during stressful times, but self-care is extremely important for maintaining a positive mindset during finals week,” Wales said.

Ultimately, Laughlin said studying requires a growth mindset, and the way students shape their perspective may have an influence on their performance.

“If you believe that a final will be too difficult or that you will not get a good grade, chances are that belief will become a reality,” Laughlin said. “However, if you start to see learning as an opportunity to improve, that mindset can change your attitude and potentially the outcome as well.”

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