The end of the semester is quickly approaching, and with that comes the ever-looming threat of finals season. If you are anything like me, your motivation and morale are running low, and it has felt nearly impossible to sit down and dedicate time towards studying for these tests and working on completing a few more assignments. The stress that accompanies these last weeks of school can also take a toll, especially when it seems like all your peers are also feeling the pressure. To help you successfully conquer your finals season, I have gathered several resources, tips, and strategies below to effectively study and manage your stress level so that you will feel well equipped to end your semester on a high note!
- Create a schedule. Start by writing out all your due dates in one place so you can keep track of them however you like - whether through Google Calendar, an online template, or simply some old-fashioned pen and paper. Then, organize your studying by breaking it up into smaller chunks. For example, on Day 1 you want to review units 1 and 2 for a test, then on Day 2 review units 3 and 4, and so on. I believe that studying is more manageable when you are just focusing on part of the content. This will ideally lower your levels of stress if you budget appropriate amounts of time to different classes and are not waiting until the last minute to cram the night before. At the same time, make sure to give yourself realistic goals and prioritize the content you feel the least confident about for the most effective studying.
- Determine how you learn best to create a personalized study strategy. Once I figured out the best way for me to learn and understand content, I was able to be more efficient in my studying and gained greater confidence as I actually retained the material. I am a verbal learner, so I retain and understand material best by talking it out and pretending as though I am teaching someone the content. This article explores different types of learning and gives some example study strategies suited to your learning style, so I highly recommend reading it over if you feel that your current study methods are not working. Whether it is finding a study group or creating visual aids, taking the time to explore methods to personalize your study experience can be very beneficial.
- Find an environment that encourages studying. Eliminating distractions is essential to ensuring you can focus on going over material and avoid the all-too-familiar pitfall of going on your phone for a quick break and realizing you have been scrolling on social media for an hour. Set your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and close out of all social media apps - even log out or delete the app for the time being if you find yourself itching to check it every couple of minutes. Then, pick a place to camp out and focus for a few hours based on your personal preferences. I personally like complete silence when I am studying, so I love using the MLC Reading Room when I really need to get things done. If you prefer more background noise, try a different area of a library or a local coffee shop (while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines). Check out this link to browse a comprehensive list of study spots on campus!
- Take productive breaks. Recognizing when you need a break and giving yourself a set amount of time to shift your focus will allow you to study more effectively when you return to the content and relieve any built-up stress you have. With the amount of time you will likely spend looking at a screen while studying, I would recommend choosing an outlet that does not involve a screen to give your eyes a break too. You can exercise - try going for a short walk, stretching or following a yoga tutorial video online, or going to the gym for a quick workout. If that is not your style, you could read a book, paint or draw, meditate, journal, or do a crossword puzzle. Something that really calms me is engaging in Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercises while I listen to music. See this article for an explanation on how to perform this technique to relieve some stress!
- Take advantage of resources available to you. Whether you need some support with studying or relieving stress, there are places and people on campus with the ability to offer assistance. In terms of study support, you can visit a professor’s office hours, visit the Division of Academic Enhancement for tutoring or academic coaching, or make an appointment with the Writing Center. There are even more options that you can explore here. If you find that your stress level is impacting your ability to perform academically or complete daily tasks, consider reaching out to the Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), the Student Care and Outreach department, the ASPIRE clinic, or one of the other resources for well-being linked here. At the end of the day, taking care of yourself should always be your top priority and focus, so reach out and seek support when you need it.
I hope that these strategies are helpful for both finishing out the semester and continuing to study effectively in the future. Do your best, and finish strong! If you find yourself in need of career-related support as the year comes to a close, be sure to schedule an appointment with your Career Consultant through Handshake or visit our virtual drop-in hours from Monday - Friday, 11 am to 2 pm through the event on Handshake as well. Enjoy your summer, and go Dawgs!