Friday, April 29, 2011

10 steps to acing your finals

Finals are quickly approaching at colleges and universities everywhere, and many students are feeling the stress of the end of semester. This is the busiest time of year for the peer tutors and professional staff in the Post University Learning and Writing Center -- as is expected!

We work one-on-one with students to help them with any and all materials they're having trouble with. Our tutors also help students with organizational skills, essay writing, and research writing techniques.

Post University's Writing Center focuses on helping students develop and improve their writing, presentation, organization, critical thinking, grammar, structure, and style skills. Post University requires writing across all phases of each student's degree program, making these skills especially important to hone.

If you're looking for some personal help on your studies, flip over to our website for details on Learning and Writing Center hours and how to make an appointment.

In addition, there are also some ways you can help yourself stay on track during crunch-time. Here our 10 steps I offer to students to help them do their best on their exams.

1. Sleep. This might seem counter-intuitive, but you will do much better if you create a study plan that includes plenty of time for a good night's sleep or nap right before a big exam. That all-nighter you're planning to get through your chem exam might very well backfire if you can't keep your head up.

2. Eat. You can't concentrate if you're hungry. Make sure you eat complete meals while you're studying and before your exams.

3. Relax. Now you're probably thinking, sleep, eat, relax? What kind of study tips are these? They're the ones that will make sure your mind AND body are ready to perform at maximum capacity. It's important to add regular relaxation breaks to your study sessions so you don't get overwhelmed or exhausted.

4. Avoid procrastination. The best strategy to avoid this downfall is to start with the hard stuff first. It's natural to want to avoid what we find difficult. But getting the tougher projects and papers out of the way helps take stress off your shoulders and lets you finish up with an easier workload. This can give you a greater sense of accomplishment.


5. Create a study plan. List what needs to get done for your classes, and determine how much time you'll need for each one. Map out a plan for accomplishing the projects and/or allotting study sessions during the time you have left. This will help you get organized and ensure that you don't forget any key pieces.

6. Do what works for you. For instance, do you memorize better using note cards or re-reading the book? After having gone through high school and some college, you probably have a good sense of how you like to study. Stick to what works best for you. Don't get caught up in studying with a group that distracts you. Know how you like to study, and use your time wisely.

7. Take your cues from your professor. What kinds of questions does your professor typically focus on? That's what you should focus on. If you got questions wrong on past tests, make sure you're prepared to get them right if they show up again on the final. And if your professor gives you a study guide, practice quiz, or test, complete it and make sure you're able to answer every question correctly.

8. Can the cram. No student can be successful if he or she is studying for everything at once. Cramming the night before just does not work. Instead, break your studying into chunks and reward yourself for accomplishments. If you have to read a long chapter in your finance text on interest rates and bond valuation, read a few pages and then do something you like. As a reward for your hard work, log on to Facebook for a few minutes, get a snack, or call a friend.

9. Stay engaged and ask for help if you need it. Be sure to participate in any review sessions for the exam. Your professor will usually give verbal and non-verbal cues to help you prepare. If you need extra help, seek out the academic support services available and talk with your professors if you have any questions or concerns.

10. Keep your eye on the prize. Know that the efforts you put into preparing and studying for exams will benefit you beyond the short term of getting a good grade in the class. They'll also help you in the long term with your ultimate educational or career goals, such as helping you land your dream job after graduation.