End of Semester Study Tips
It’s almost the end of the semester, which means there are only a couple of weeks left before you’ll eventually have to face finals week. Although this week can be incredibly daunting, I have some study tips to help you feel more prepared to tackle your final exams and projects head-on.
Work in timed intervals and reward yourself along the way
This tip works extremely well for me if I’m working on an extremely long project, essay, or lab report. I often set timers for a long period of time (ranging from 30-40 minutes) to work on my task and when that one finishes, I’ll set a second timer (ranging from 5-10 minutes) to take a break. I repeat this process until my assignment is done!
The key part of this study tip is how you choose to take your break. Please please please please do not use TV or social media as your entire break. At least in my experience, using my favorite Netflix show as a reward never ends well – I always end up abandoning my work for hours because my ten-minute break stopped on a cliffhanger I just had to watch. Instead, try and choose a task that will get you out of your desk and away from any screen. Some examples could be: folding up your laundry, cleaning up your room, filling up your water bottle, grabbing a snack, or briefly chatting with a friend.
Show up for office hours
This might be an obvious one, but you will thank yourself for showing up for office hours. Even if you only come for 10 minutes to get one question answered, at least you won’t have to put off your understanding of the material till finals week. Office hours are also a great way to directly connect with your professor and develop a professional relationship with them – this is especially important if you want them to write a recommendation for you in the future! Whenever you set aside time for writing out your plan for the week, try and include a couple of times you could possibly go to office hours. In my Class Tracker planner, I’ll usually include this in the “to-do” section at the top of the selected day as a way to remind myself to go to that day’s office hours.
Space out your workload throughout the week
When you have a big test or project coming up, try to space out your studying/workload throughout the week, instead of leaving it till the last minute. While big projects can be daunting, I try to break them down into smaller tasks that take up roughly the same amount of time. Once you have broken down your project into smaller tasks, take out your planner and write a to-do list item for each day leading up to the due date. It never feels good to leave a project to the last minute – do yourself a favor and space out your work so you can have the energy to reward yourself after it’s finished.
Reach out to upperclassmen and TAs that you admire
Some of the most overlooked resources on campus are often right in front of you – your TAs and upperclassmen friends are here to help you through your hardest courses. If talking to your professor is a little daunting, your TAs will come to the rescue to help you figure out a difficult concept. Hopefully, you’ll have some great TAs that are accessible via email or office hours, but if not, you should reach out to your favorite upperclassmen in your major. If I need a very quick explanation of a concept or if I can’t figure out how much effort I should put into a given assignment, I’ll reach out to a friend of mine who has already taken the same class. Your TAs and upperclassmen friends know all of the secrets to the classes you’re taking and may also give great advice about your major and life after college – do not overlook how helpful they can be!
Practice reviewing your notes often
Oftentimes you might leave studying until the last minute, which is not the most effective way to prepare for finals. If you’re reading this, this is your sign to start your final study guide right now! After the end of every week from now until your final, review your notes and put them in your final study guide. While you’re doing this, take note of any questions you have and put a plan in place so that you can get your questions answered before it’s finals week. This strategy will help you retain all of the information you need and ensure that you won’t have a million questions to answer a week before the final.
Utilize Campus Resources
When you’re working on final projects and papers, find out what different academic resources are available to help you turn in a stronger assignment. At my college, there are writing fellows that are available to help with essays, lab reports, etc. and speaking fellows that can help with preparing for a big presentation. Also, if your school’s librarians are available for meetings, I’d highly recommend reaching out to your major-specific librarian. Whenever I need a little extra help with a research paper or presentation, I set up an appointment with my school’s public health librarian. Another option is to see if your school offers major-specific study groups or peer-tutors. Even if you’re pretty confident in your assignment, it can always help to get an extra pair of eyes if you have the time.
Study with your classmates
Two heads are almost always better than one! Studying with your friends or classmates is a great strategy if you need another person to keep you accountable to do your work or if you need to talk through key concepts out loud with someone to fully understand the material. If you’re the type of person that gets easily distracted when working with others, this study tip might not be the most effective for you. Bonus points if the person you’re studying with isn’t already one of your close friends. This way, when you meet up with them to work on the homework, you’ll stay on task to get the work done, and maybe at the end of the semester, you’ll have a productive work buddy or a new friend!
Julia is a Class Tracker Ambassador who attends University of Rochester. She is a health policy major with minors in digital media and photography. Julia’s best known for decorating her planner with different colorful themes each week, visit our Instagram reels page for all her planner tips and spreads.