The secret for a successful final exam preparation is a plan! After three years of college, I developed a strategy for an effective final exam study session. Here it is:
1. How much time do you have left?
The very first step is to determine how much time is left and how much material you need to cover during this period.
Count how many days you have left before the final (e.g. 6 days)
Count how many chapters and sections in this chapters you need to study (e.g. 4 chapters with 5 sections in each => 4 ch x 5 sec = you have 20 sections in total)
You need to spread 20 sections through 5 days and leave 1 last day for a total review. Here you have 4 sections per day.
If your chapters are not broken down into sections you can either break them down into sections yourself or just use the number of chapters. You can also use the number of points in your study guide if you have one.
I like this strategy because it customizes a study plan for any class and time you have left.When I know what I need to finish every day in order to kill this final, it makes me less stressed and more motivated.
2. Determine what you know and what you don’t know
Let’s use your time efficiently. Don’t waste your time on what you already know, focus on information that you don’t understand or don’t remember.
If you have a study guide, look through it and circle points that you can’t answer from the top of your head.
If you don’t have a study guide, go over your notes or your student book, and analyze the material. Write down the topics that you’re not 100% confident about (you don’t have to be specific here, just make a simple outline). That’s gonna be your personal study guide.
3. Study Plan
When you know how much you need to study every day, you need to create a study plan. The study plan includes what do you need to do with all this material. It can be reading, rewriting notes, practicing problems, memorizing formulas, and etc. As you can see, the study plan will depend on the class and the chapter.
To create a study plan write down what you need to do every day.
E.g. Day 1: you need to finish reading 4 sections, rewriting and memorizing definitions you don’t know yet, then you need to practice 2 problems per section.
Do this sort of thing for every day and for every class you have a final for, and this is gonna be your final exam study plan.
4. Track your progress
It’ll motivate you
It’ll make you feel accomplished
It’ll make you stay on track every day
I usually track my progress crossing out the number of sections I’ve done. I draw it as a “download bar”.
Every class is different so they will have a different amount of material.
5. Switch subjects
Don’t study for one class 5 hours in a row! Switch subjects, give yourself a break, eat.. There’s a Pomodoro technique when you study for about 30 minutes and then have a 5-minute break, and then study for 30 minutes.
For me, 30 minutes isn’t enough for one study session. I usually study 1 hour and then have a break or I finish 1-2 sections (depending on their size), and then have a break and move on to another subject.