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The Collegiate guide to Final Exams

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Photo by Sarah Davis
From left, Mitch Carpenter, Samantha Ebenohoeh and Joe Long study in the Math Lab on the first floor of Cook Academic Hall.
Photo by Sarah Davis
From left, Mitch Carpenter, Samantha Ebenohoeh and Joe Long study in the Math Lab on the first floor of Cook Academic Hall.

By Carla Villasana-Acosta

Final exams week, that crucial time of every semester is fast approaching and you need to be ready for it.  Read on for tips on how to prepare for finals and give yourself the best chance to ace your exams.

Time Management: Without a planned schedule, it becomes even more complicated to balance between classes, work, family, and rest. Jill Woller-Sullivan, an academic advisor at Grand Rapids Community College, explained that “whether it is a written planner or a calendar on your phone, (know) when you have everything due.” Woller-Sullivan also said that time management can be used as a strategy to avoid falling behind throughout the semester and to plan spaces on your schedule to spend studying for finals.

Identify study techniques:  There are many effective study strategies students can choose from, but they need to be selected according to the subject area. For example, Woller-Sullivan explained that for courses involving specific details such as history or anatomy, flashcards become an asset at the time of learning the material. A student’s learning style is an important factor as well. While some may prefer studying by themselves in a quiet place, others may learn better when they discuss the information in a study group, said Woller-Sullivan. Recognize the environment and techniques that help you the most and build your study plan accordingly.

Be familiar with the course syllabus and organize the material: Since a course syllabus provides the expectations and assignments for a specific class, “students should know based on the syllabus what kind of materials they need to pull together to study for that class,” Woller-Sullivan said.

She also explained that by early organizing and putting together every assignment, notes, handouts, and tests, you can avoid wasting time looking for the material you need, and you can focus immediately on actual studying. Identifying the type of test and the content it will cover (cumulative or specific chapters) are also helpful tools in order to make the study session as productive as possible.

Take short breaks and choose the healthy road:  Taking a 15-minute break after an hour of studying and then going back to work can help you retain the material. However, it is very important to remember that “the point is not to take a big break but to get back on track.”

Studying in short amounts of time is more helpful than just cramming the night before.

“Cramming typically doesn’t work,” explained Woller-Sullivan, “You may remember a couple things, but if you’re cramming for more than one (course) and you’re tired, your brain’s ability to retain (information) is going to be pretty limited.”

Even though it is not easy to accomplish, healthy eating habits and sleep patterns can help you get even more energy to be more productive during the day. Also, Woller-Sullivan recommended that you should avoid trying energy drinks or excess of caffeine during or right before finals week if you do not know how your body is going to respond.

When it comes to final exams, Woller-Sullivan explained that “you prepare from the first day of class.”

Photo by Sarah Davis
Curtis Neff studying in the newly renovated fifth floor of Cook Hall.

That is why it is so important to keep up with all the classes and try not to fall behind. However, there is still time to organize your notes and seek help in the areas that you need.

GRCC offers a wide range of services to students including:

* The Academic Support Center provides tutors and labs on campus that offer assistance for different courses.

* The Counseling and Career Center will also offer a Final Exam Prep Workshop at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in 336 Student Center for extra tips before finals.

* “Exam Cram” is an event where you can go and study all day with tutors from 10a.m.-10p.m Dec. 7 and 8 at the GRCC Library.