Finals Week: How to Study Smarter, Not Harder

With finals week quickly approaching and the semester coming to an end, it is important to develop a schedule that best suits your needs during this busy time. The upcoming weeks are a stressful and demanding period for all students, so always remember that your mental and physical health come first above all else. Creating a balanced schedule can help lessen the stress you may face and allow you to have a healthier and happier end to your fall semester.

Keeping a calendar, planner, spreadsheet, or any other organization method of your choice, will help you achieve a well-balanced schedule. Write or type dates and times you will study for each class, and keep this schedule on hand as a reminder of your daily tasks.

Within these studying periods, make sure to set aside time for leisure activities, time with friends and family, and/or relaxation. Always keep in mind that taking unplanned but necessary breaks is very important as well. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or distracted, it may be a good idea to step away from studying and do something else for a little while.

Michael A. Phillips-Anderson, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, stated that in order to create a balanced schedule, students should take breaks while studying. He said, “Try working for 25 minutes and then taking a short break (it’s called the Pomodoro technique). Sleep is critical. You cannot do your best work if you are not rested.”

When it comes to learning vocabulary for tests, use flashcards and Quizlet in your study session as well as the repetition method. For multiple choice exams, make sure to look back at notes and PowerPoints from lectures in class, reread your textbook, write notes on the material, use the chapter questions to practice, and even create your own acronyms or jingles to help you remember specific things. Most importantly, pay attention to the reviews professors give for their final exams because no one knows how to help you better prepare than the people who make the finals themselves.

Senior David Fasolino, a double major in history and secondary education with a double minor in special education and English as a second language, manages to be involved in and take on leadership positions in various clubs including Best Buddies, the Catholic Campus Ministry and the Student Government Association (SGA). With a busy schedule like his, he agrees that listening to what your professors have to say is most important during finals week. “Attend any review sessions, stop by office hours with your professors, do practice questions, and look over old exams,” he recommends.

Emmanuel Kuye, a junior biology student and Residential Assistant (RA), shared some of his study tips as well. “I watch YouTube videos of topics first to get a better understanding of the material. Then, I reread my notes and PowerPoints while listening to classical music to help me focus,” he said. With a demanding major and the responsibilities as an RA, he still manages to achieve astonishing grades with the study methods he uses.

While it is important to review your notes beforehand, and make some sort of study guide, it’s also important to avoid procrastinating. Although studying may not seem like your ideal thing to do on a Friday night, it’s something that must be done in order to ace those finals.

Lisa Allocco-Russo, an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication, also provided some study tips as we approach finals season. She said, “Remaining organized and not waiting until the last couple of days prior to the exam, but rather reviewing a week or so before is a sound strategy. Talking to the professor about any questions or concerns a week or two before the exam is also a way to feel that you have everything under control.”

Dr. Phillips-Anderson concluded, “It is beneficial to form the material into questions. Rather than just rereading, try to think about how the professor might ask a question about the material.”

As you prepare for finals, make sure to check your Monmouth Student Portal for your 14th Week Schedule containing dates, times, and locations of exams.

Also, make use of all that Monmouth has to offer for free, including Writing Services, Tutoring Services, and Counseling & Psychological Services.