Success tips for students

Johnna Leary recently graduated from Shepherd University with a B.A. in Vocal Performance – Musical Theater. She previously worked as the Arts and Styles Section Editor for the Shepherd University newspaper The Picket. She is currently the West Virginia State Press Editor for BroadwayWorld.com and a Local Reviewer for DC Metro Theater Arts. Johnna is no stranger to the stage and has appeared in many productions with the Washington County Playhouse, Way Off Broadway Dinner Theater, the Old Opera House and Apollo Civic Theater. She can also be seen on several documentaries and mini series on Investigation Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and National Geographic. She is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, the women’s international music fraternity.

It’s that time of year again….. birds are singing, April showers and…… the dreaded final exams. Graduation for seniors and summer vacation for underclassmen are only a few weeks away, but before anyone is ready to pack up the dorm and start enjoying time off, final exams have to be conquered first. If you tend to stress out about big tests, don’t worry! These five tips will help you not only feel confident going into your finals, but make life outside of the classroom less stressful as well.

1. Start Preparing……. Now
Every campus has a different schedule, but for most students, finals are 3-4 weeks away at the least. Plenty of time to cram, right? Wrong. Even though it seems like a lot of time, once you factor in the current homework from your ongoing courses, additional final projects or presentations and any family or work obligations, pretty soon all of your time to study will melt down into an unproductive cram session the night before the exam. So, start planning your study materials now. If you don’t have a final exam topic sheet, refer to your syllabus or make a list of all the major topics you covered in class.

2. Study in Small Amounts Every Day
Every student has a different method for individual studying. If you have already found a system that works well for you, then great! Stick to it and keep studying. If not, try studying small amounts of information every day. Make some flash cards, type important info onto a note or app in your phone or take pictures of important diagrams or information if you don’t want to carry an additional textbook around. Gradually start layering on levels of information each day and spend about 10-15 minutes totally focusing. It’s easy to squeeze time into the busiest schedules. If you have a few minutes in between classes or hanging around the dining hall, instead of mindlessly scrolling for updates on Facebook and Twitter, pull out your class information and spend those few minutes studying instead.

3. Make A Time Table
Again, the schedules vary from campus to campus, but some finals are held during different days, times and even locations from your normal class routine. Check out this info ahead of time for all of your classes. Make a time table chart in whatever format is easiest for you to organize (on your phone, paper printout, color coded, etc.) so you can see when your exams will take place, where they are located and how much free time you have in between for studying or relaxing. If you notice any conflicts in your schedule between class finals, talk to the professors involved to work out the conflicts.

4. Talk to Your Professors
Let me be clear with this one: Now is not the time to try to suck up or earn last minute points if you haven’t been actively participating in class all semester. Professors deal with students trying to do this every semester and they see right through any insincere attempts. Instead, honestly talk with your professors. If there is a subject you struggle with and you aren’t already seeking tutoring, ask a professor which tutor or study coach he or she would recommend for the final. Ask about the format for the final exam or if there are certain concepts or areas which need an extra review. Visit during office hours and come in with a list of prepared questions you think will help prepare you for the exam. Professors also remember which students took the extra time to prepare and seek out help if they need it.

5. Stay Healthy
With all of the stress and time constraints finals inevitably bring, it is the perfect time for you to want to get lazy and neglect your health. Don’t do it! You want your body and mind to be in the best possible shape to ace your exams. Even though eating junk food and binge-watching Netflix is tempting during the stress of finals, your body will thank you if you keep up a healthy routine. Buy some healthy, tasty snacks for any late-night study sessions and try to get as much sleep as you can. Exercising is also a great way to keep your mind sharp for finals and lower your stress levels. You can even multi-task and study while doing stationary exercises, such as using a treadmill.

With some preparation, you can feel great about the grade on your final exam and ending another semester using these tips to help reduce your stress and enjoy some time off on your break.

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