Preparing for Semester Exams? Manage Time and Stress

Time and stress management are key to effective study habits.

Time and stress management are key to effective study habits.

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As finals approach, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Here are three helpful tips to maximize your success and minimize your stress:

Stress productively: Ignore what you’ve been told about stressing. Yes, too much stress is unhealthy; however, stress can be a helpful tool in many situations. The key is to stress productively. Channel your nerves into motivation, and use the stress you feel as a motivator to do well and complete assignments. Rather than focusing on the quantity of work on your plate, focus on completing the tasks. This will reduce your workload and consequently reduce your stress.

Another way to stress productively is to dedicate certain periods of time for stressing. While it may seem neurotic to plan stress, it can actually be helpful when done correctly. For example, the night before your exam, set aside an hour window dedicated to stressing. Not only will this prevent stress from overwhelming you, it will also help you decompress prior to your exam. Scheduling time for stress is far more efficient than stressing endlessly, and more realistic than not stressing at all.

Study one subject at a time: With seven finals, there is an overabundance of information to review. Rather than attempt to learn all the information at once, focus on one subject at a time. This technique will help you process the individual topics more clearly and will make the entire process less overwhelming.

Additionally, since there are four days worth of finals, study subjects in the order which you will take them. This will ensure that the information is fresh in your mind and that you will feel prepared for each exam.

Maximize your study time: Work smarter, not harder. Studying for hours on end can be equally, if not less effective than studying for one hour a day. Quantity of time spent studying is far less important than the quality of time spent studying. For example, if you are specifically weak in an area of the subject you are studying, focus on that. If you are strong on most areas of a topic, it is not very helpful to over-study that topic. Instead, spend 45 minutes studying the area you struggle with, and use the last 15 minutes to quickly review the rest of the topic. This cuts down study time while leaving you with a good understanding of the entire topic, rather than just parts of it.

Study groups can also be a helpful way to study efficiently for some students. Keep in mind, this is only useful when you are actually studying, not just hanging out with friends. Within the study group, it can be incredibly helpful to create a communal study guide. The work can be divided, and each group member can be responsible for covering the topic they best understand.

Another way to maximize study time is to utilize post-exam time. Rather than sleeping or talking after an exam, use the time to study for the next day’s exams. If your teacher permits, keep flashcards or study guides under your desk during the exam. Then, when you are done, you have the necessary materials for studying.

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