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Stress-free success

Over the past few weeks, there has been a dramatic increase of students in the library. They sit with books and notes sprawled across the tables. They spend hours there in preparation for the two words that can fill a college student with dread: finals week.

We all know it’s coming from day one of classes, and yet it somehow always seems to sneak up on us. We have to spend countless hours studying, cramming and trying to make some sense of what our professors have been saying in lectures all year long. We pull all-nighters with the aid of coffee or energy drinks.

The good news is once the week is over, we have a month of no classes, no homework and no tests. The bad news is, first we have to survive final exams.

Finals week is here, like it or not, but are you ready for it? Use this checklist to calculate your readiness:

  • Start studying right away.
  • Find a private study place free of distractions. Hidden nooks in the library or study rooms in residence halls are just two of the many good study spots on campus.
  • Go to all review sessions. Professors will answer questions and sometimes go over the material that will appear on the test.
  • Form study groups with people in your classes. The more people, the more likely information won’t get missed. This will be especially useful if you’ve missed a few classes throughout the semester.
  • Read your textbooks again—or maybe for a first time.Go through your notes and highlight information that will likely appear on the exam. Re-copy important concepts to reinforce them in your memory.
  • Create flashcards for important terms, vocabulary or concepts that may be on the test.
  • If you have an upcoming essay test, ask for sample questions from the professor; list the information you might use and outline an essay; and practice writing it.
  • Review old tests if your final is cumulative—professors often use questions directly from previous exams.
  • Prioritize study time based on the difficulty of each class and the time of each test. Create a study schedule. Block out times for studying and for breaks this weekend and next week.
  • Stick to your schedule.
  • Review past assignments and the professor’s feedback.
  • Ask your professors for help if you don’t understand the material—better late than never.
  • Don’t study too much at one time: Thirty minutes is the most one subject should be studied in one sitting.
  • For classes such as math or chemistry, practice solving the problems from the textbook or previous assignments.
  • Eliminate distractions like Facebook, Twitter and cell phones. Ask a friend to change your password until finals are over.
  • Have a friend orally quiz you over the material. If you can repeat the information aloud, you can repeat it again during the exam.
  • Get a full night’s sleep–seven to eight hours–before tests.
  • Have multiple pencils and good erasers for the exams.
  • Bring scratch paper if needed.
  • Get to your exams a bit early to ask any last-minute questions.
  • If you have an early morning exam, ask a parent, friend or roommate to call you in the morning to make sure you’re awake.
  • Take your time reading questions thoroughly and double-check your answers before turning in the test.

Photo: Connor McCourtney

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