Friday, December 5, 2014

Victor's Tips on Studying for Finals!

Hello everyone!

     This week, we're going to talk about some study strategies and tips for getting ready for finals week. Finals are beginning next week, and I am hoping to be able to help you prepare. Finals can be a stressful time for everyone, so knowing how to handle that stress and manage your time appropriately can do tons for you when it comes to acing that final exam you've been dreading. Here are some things that I have learned during my time at UMass that help me prepare and succeed during finals week:

  • Don't wait until the last minute to begin studying!
      When it comes to being prepared for a test, cramming is the last thing you want to do. Generally, cramming information the night before or the day of an exam isn't effective. Cramming usually leads to students only focusing on what they find important, and as a result during the exam, most students forget what they've been trying to remember. A more effective method is to start studying a few days before your finals. If you study for 1-2 hours a day for the 3 days prior to the test, you will retain much more information than if you cram it all into the last 2 hours before the exam.

  • Find a nice study location!
     For me, one of the hardest things about studying is trying not to get distracted. Studying in my house, I am constantly distracted by roommates, television, the internet, ultimately my environment. Separating yourself from distractions will cause you to remember and understand more of what you are studying. There are a lot of great places to study on and off campus, here are just a few of my favorites: many of the floors of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library are quiet study areas, the upper level of the Student Union or in the Earthfoods Cafe, the Intergrative Learning Center or the Intergrated Science Building, inside Isenberg or the Studio Arts Building. Off campus study areas include The Black Sheep, Rao's, Amherst Coffee, Barnes and Noble, and other book stores in the Amherst area. Areas that are free of television or high volumes will be more conducive for studying than sitting in front of your television with your friends talking around you. 

  • Create Study Groups and Study Guides!
     Study groups are a good thing to have when getting ready for exams. I find that for classes such as Math, Science, and even some History/Social Science classes, where you are often repeating a formula or method, are good classes to link up with other students and try the problems together. Getting another set of eyes on a tough math problem can help you understand what you're reviewing better, and you can also help others out where they might need it. Many lounges in the dorms (and cubicles in the library) have white boards so you can write out problems and work on them with other students. Study guides are also helpful for cumulative (or noncumulative) exams. Reviewing your notes and writing them all out for a study guide will help you retain the information better than just reading it. We remember more by doing than we do by just seeing.

  • Visit Office Hours or Review Sessions!
     Some instructors have extra office hours before the final exam period, so taking advantage of any time the instructor is willing to offer is key. Go to your instructor or your teaching assistant's office hours and pick their brain a little about things you are having trouble with. Make sure when you go to office hours you go prepared with questions and discussion topics, as there are many students that are seeking help and everyone's time is valuable, so don't waste other people's time by going to office hours and expecting the instructor to just hold a mini class section for you: it just doesn't work like that. Many instructors or TA's also hold review sessions for final exams, so asking your instructor or TA if they are holding a review session can be very beneficial to your studying schedule and grade.

     So take some time over the weekend to hit the books, review some notes, and ask questions about the material you are studying. Finals period is a stressful time for many people so managing your time and energy is key. Don't over stress yourself, have faith, and make sure you review your material before your exam or final paper. It may be difficult now, but hang through it, because in just about a week you will be done for the semester, and whether it's your first or your last one, the feeling of success tastes just as sweet.

Good luck to you all!

Victor Ramos

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