A Few Hints on Preparing for Finals

This week over on the Pursute blog I talked about studying for finals and the tangible actions students can take to study smarter. If you’re someone looking for some hot study tips, click on over for some insights into how to best prepare for finals.

Spoiler alert, here’s a recap of the hot tips if you’re too lazy to click:

Tip #1: Find a review system that works for you. 

One of my favorites for reviewing is Cornell Notes. To be perfectly honest, when sitting in high school or college lectures I don’t use Cornell Notes. But when reviewing, I did rewrite all of my notes and develop questions based on those notes (Cornell Notes is perfect for this type of review). Rewriting notes was particularly helpful because it allowed me to identify knowledge gaps. Once I figured out what I was missing, it became easier to go ask the teacher for extra help or approach a friend. Cornell notes help you do something very specific. If you’re stuck, instead of the general statement, “I don’t get chapter seven.” You can be specific and say, “I don’t really get why the Boston Massacre was such a big deal. Only eleven people died and it seems like there were ‘wrongs’ on both sides, why are we still talking about it so much today?” This will help your teachers and friends help you better, because they’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where you’re getting lost.


Tip #2: Make a plan.

Again, this might seem obvious, but get yourself a calendar or a to-do system. I’m old school and like to print out a calendar and then pencil in study sessions and plan my time. If I want to keep myself accountable, I’ll put my calendar somewhere visible so that other people see it. In college I did this by taping my calendar to the fridge — knowing that Melissa might be judging me for not studying was helpful for me. (She’s a doctor now, so obviously she was better at studying than I was, yikes…) I’ve also heard rave reviews about phone-based tools. Wunderlist seems to get mentioned whenever I ask organized students what they’re using to keep themselves on track. I myself like to use Trello when I need a digital tool for tracking progress on a big project. (Try the calendar “power-up” on Trello if you want the best of both worlds. It is kind of like a to do list + calendar, all rolled into one).


Tip #3: Just start. 

Whether you have a test tomorrow or your first exam is in three weeks, get going. If you’re finding it almost impossible to start, it could be a sign that something bigger is wrong. Are you totally unable to focus after school? Drained of energy and not able to even contemplate picking up a textbook? Sometimes underlying causes that aren’t “just” procrastination prevent us from studying. There are some surprising mental health issues that could be impacting your study habits in ways you might not expect. If this is sounding eerily familiar it might be worth speaking to someone you trust about what’s going on. Don’t suffer alone. If this is something you’re grappling with, ask for help.


Want to learn more about planning for finals and beyond in high school?

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Monica Gallego Rude