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Getting Ready for Finals Week

April 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

final-examsHello Parents,

I hope you’re all having a fantastic week! The last week of the semester has finally come, and students are busier than ever as they try to finish up their final assignments, wrap up their end-of-the-semester projects and presentations, and prepare for final exams. These last two weeks may be the most stressful weeks of the semester, but the coming summer break gives students hope and motivation to endure the work and continue to the end. The weather isn’t helping our situation, either, as snow has returned to the Keweenaw! Although none of it has stuck, there’s been a rain/snow mix the past few days that keeps students wanting to stay inside and study. Although last week was beautifully sunny and warm with temperatures in the 70s, this rotten weather keeps students inside and helps us focus on our studies rather than tempting us to soak up the sun.

Finals are fast approaching with less than one week left to prepare! Students can check their final exam schedule by logging on to Banweb, then clicking Students → Registration → Student Final Exam Schedule. They can also check on the Michigan Tech Registrar’s Office scheduling document. Preparing for final exams can be a doozy, so here are some tips that I’ve accumulated over the years that have helped me prepare with confidence and composure. PLEASE SHARE THESE WITH YOUR STUDENTS!

1.) Start preparing early!
The earlier you prepare, the more confident you will feel on the exam. Even if you look at the material for just a short time, it will make “cramming” for the final much less stressful. Repetition is the key to studying, so even if you passively go over the material even once before you hit the books hard next week, it will make an immeasurable difference.

2.) Schedule your study time
Scheduling out when you will study for each final will not only maximize your study time, it will help you feel less stressed in trying to find time to study. It will also keep you organized and from getting too exhausted. No one wants to feel burnt out right before you take a final!

3.) Utilize the Learning Centers
Even if they’re not open during their normal hours, most learning centers are open for at least part, if not all, of finals week. Learning Centers are fantastic resources to use to stay ahead in your classes during the academic year, and they serve as fantastic study spaces to prepare for final exams, too. Studying in the learning centers is extremely beneficial because they not only serve as quiet spaces with no distractions, the coaches there can help you if you realize you’re having trouble with a certain topic.

4.) Study in a way that works for you
Everyone has their own preferred method of studying. Some people work better in a group setting and some work better on their own; some people work best by working out practice problems, while others learn better by rewriting terms and definitions. Identify how you learn best and use that method when preparing for exams. If you study best by learning with other people, organize a study group. If you work best by re-working through problems, find sample problems or old exams and work through those. Don’t waste your time with techniques that aren’t effective for you, but maximize your time by studying in a way that you learn best.

5.) Organize your study space.
Trying to study in a cluttered area with papers from other subjects is not only distracting, it can be extremely stressful. Having a clean and organized space will maximize study time and keep your brain free of distraction.

6.) Stay healthy

  • Get enough sleep! Sleep is essential to retain and process the information that you already learned. Pulling all-nighters may seem tempting to do during finals week, but getting a good night’s rest will actually help you study way more effectively! It will help you focus, feel less anxious, and feel more ready to face your final.
  • Exercise. Even if it’s just for a half hour, you will feel less stressed, more focused, and you’ll actually retain more information. The increased oxygen to your brain that comes with aerobic exercise will increase both your brain-power and memory. Even doing less strenuous exercise such as going for a walk, doing yoga, or shooting free throws will help you de-stress and keep you sane.
  • Put down the junk food! Your body and mind slow down when you jump for the bag of chips or a cupcake. Keeping a healthy diet will increase energy and brain power. So if you’re going to stress-eat, go for the bag of baby carrots instead of the french fries.

7.) STAY CALM!
Freaking out and driving yourself nuts with worry is no way to complete your finals successfully. Anxiety is probably one of the easiest mindsets to fall into during finals week, and it’s definitely the most dangerous. Never second-guess yourself and always go with your gut. Staying calm and confident is the key to acing your exams, which I know is much easier said than done. If you feel that your anxiety over your finals is starting to distract you from your everyday life, talk to Counseling Services on the third floor of the Administration Building, and they will be able to help. Following the tips that I talked about above will significantly help with managing your worry keep you cool and composed during exams.

8.) Look at the light at the end of the tunnel!
As daunting as your final exams might seem now, think of everything you have to look forward to when you’re done! You have four months of summer break to enjoy the sunshine, whether you will be working a summer job, going on to an internship or co-op, studying abroad, taking classes, or just relaxing! Looking at the bright side will help bring calmness and serenity into your mind as you take your finals. Something that helps me is to realize that no matter what happens, the worst possible scenario isn’t the end of the world. That keeps the anxiety and worry away and leaves room in my mind for studying.

Although all of these behaviors are really easy to succumb to during finals week, your brain works much better by following a healthy lifestyle! Try to keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your finals, and it will help you exponentially in achieving the grade that you want.

That’s all I have for you this week! If you have any questions about final exams or would like to see more information written on a specific topic, please feel free to email me at vjtaglio@mtu.edu. I wish your students all the best as they get ready for finals week! Until next week!

-Valerie