Studying ‘Smart’ for Finals

Finals week is here at Lehigh and everyone has officially entered hard-core study-mode. The libraries are packed and students can be found in every crack and corner of buildings, surrounded by piles of textbooks and a semester’s worth of notes. As a junior ending my first semester of my third year, I have learned (the hard way unfortunately) that studying is not about studying hard but studying smart. The most effective way to study for finals is not to try to relearn everything that was taught in the semester but rather review the notes you took while in class along with spending a few minutes working out practice problems. Based on the type of classes I generally take, I have complied a small list of study tips that have helped me when preparing for finals.

-Reviewing Personal Notes. All throughout the semester, I try and read as much textbook material as I can, writing notes and quick summaries of things I found to be of importance or things that took me a while to understand. So during finals, I simply go back and review my personal notes to refresh my memory on textbook material.

-Reviewing In-Class Notes. Professors dedicate time to certain topics within the textbook. Some pages on my notes are filled with one topic more than the other, so when I am studying, I go over the topics the professors really stressed out. These are always on the finals so this is a big key component to studying.

-Finding your ‘spot’. Since the beginning of the semester, I often go to the topmost floor of the library and study there. It’s usually the quietest and not many people visit this area often. So during finals week, I am already accustomed to the spot and it becomes just another day of studying for me.

-Get together with a group of classmates prior to the exam, study, and review notes together. This is extremely helpful because oftentimes you surprise yourself by discovering gaps in your knowledge bank that someone else has and you exchange and teach each other concepts. Also, I sometimes feel I learn more from peers than professors.

-Go over Practice Problems and Practice Exams. The exams you have in class give you a general idea as to how the final is going to be. Learn the professor’s style for writing an exam and also how they word questions. Go over the homework problems you (hopefully!) worked on throughout the semester as the professor assigned those in particular for a reason!

Since all of my classes are typically math and science based, the best technique for me is to do as many practice problems as I can because, you know, practice makes perfect! Master the material and memorize some of the equations; after a bunch of practice problems, you’ll learn tricks and shortcuts to take that will help when you’re crunched for time.

I hope some of you find these tips and tricks helpful as you study for finals and I wish everyone the best of luck in nailing those exams!

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