It’s final season, but that doesn’t mean you have to stock up on Red Bull or camp out at the library for the next week. Freaking out? Try these three tips on prepping for your year-end exams and tackling those last papers, and you’ll not only get aces, you’ll get some sleep, too.
Step one: organize and prioritize. Know your exam schedule so that you can plan which tests to study for first. For classes that have a final paper in lieu of a test, chipping away at it a little at a time is better than trying to write it all the night before it's due. Annie Brown, an English major and writing tutor at McDaniel College in Maryland, tells her students to turn the paper-writing process into a series of tasks, from researching and outlining to drafting and finalizing. "On days when I know I need to complete a lot of smaller tasks, I make a list of what I'm going to do and when," says Brown. "If I have a lot of tasks but don't know in advance which ones I'll be best equipped to accomplish on a particular day, I'll list out everything I need to do and then write, 'Pick Two' or 'Pick Three' at the top.”
Practice tests are not only a great way to study the coursework; they can also prepare you for the kind of questions you'll find on the exam. “Go through each chapter of a book, or through your notes, and make up a test like an instructor would,” says Carmen Christopher, director of the Learning Center at Meredith College in North Carolina. "Then, with no books or notes beside you, take the test.” Just be sure you're making a point to learn the material and not just memorizing the answers to your practice questions.
Turns out enough rest, and not the token all-night study session, may help your odds of scoring an A. "Never underestimate the value of a good night's sleep," says Linda Gorman, a senior at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. "If you're thinking about cramming all night, it's not always a good idea. Sometimes having your head on straight is better than staying up late and wearing yourself out."