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Outsmart your final exams: Get organized ahead of time

With less than a week before finals, many students are stressing about how they will study for their exams.

Good time management skills and proper studying habits can eliminate some of the stress and worrying associated with final exams , said Sally Dreier, programs coordinator at the University’s Study Skills Center.

“Starting early and getting all of your notes and handouts organized is key,” she said. Dreier added that students should make sure they set aside enough time to study.

When studying for exams, Dreier stressed the importance of making a plan and sticking to that plan.

Attacking the plan can be accomplished in a few steps.

First, students should look over their notes and past exams from the semester, paying special attention to items that are highlighted or underlined.

Next, make study sheets including the major topics found in the syllabus, notes and old exams. Look over the study sheets and ask yourself, “Do I know everything that I need to know about the topic?” If the answer is no, then study the textbook and class notes further.

After studying and reviewing, don’t look at the information for a day. This day provides time for all of the information to synthesize and sink in.

Another study tip Dreier has for students is to type notes if they are handwritten. This helps to fill in the gaps and is a form of recitation. Doing this ensures that the notes are correct and complete.

Senior Christina Nardini fears she may not perform as well as she would like to on all of her exams.

“During exam week, I worry that I might not pass all of my exams,” Nardini said.

But Dreier tells students not to waste energy worrying about their performance on the final exams.

“Relax and don’t become anxious because this accomplishes nothing,” Dreier said.

Instead students should focus on reviewing their notes, studying and doing the best they can, Dreier said.

Creating a space to study for final exams is another component in the studying process. Dreier mentioned that what may work for one person, may or may not work for another. Therefore, it is important for the student to find an atmosphere which works for them the best.

“I always tell students this: Imagine you are driving in the dark, it’s raining, and you have the radio on. If you find yourself reaching to turn the radio down or off, the same applies to when you are studying,” Dreier said.

Lou Katzner, acting chair and Trustee Professor of Philosophy, advises students to not put off studying until the last minute.

“The best way to prepare for final exams is during the semester. However, at this time, I recommend students turn their cell phones off, study hard, take breaks and try to get enough sleep,” Katzner said.

Ultimately, when preparing for exams, students should keep their goals in mind, Dreier said. A student should decide what is important to them and remember those priorities when distractions arise such as getting on Facebook or going out partying.

Students should also remember to utilize resources on campus such as the Writing Center, Math and Stats Tutoring Center and the Study Skills Center.

The center will be holding a workshop to help students with their study habits on Thursday, Dec. 6 in 209 Moseley from 1-1:30 p.m. The program is free and no registration is required.


Tips on how to effectively study for those tedious examinations starting next week:

-Organize your notes, making sure you have all tests, notes and worksheets from the semester.

-Read through your notes and jot down questions to ask teachers or students from your classes.

-Try forming a study group.

-Create study sheets, charts and flash cards.

-Avoid procrastination.

-Eliminate distractions.

-Drink lots of water while you study; it increases the oxygen flow to your brain.

-Eat healthy and avoid too much junk food including caffeine – it saps your brain cells!



-After the exam, try to forget about it. Don’t replay the exam in your mind, instead focus on another activity or study for the next exam.

-Do something fun to reward yourself for your hard work.

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