Friday, December 7, 2012

How to Survive Finals

It’s that time of year again.  The holidays are almost upon us, but before you can kick off your shoes, eat pie, and spend quality time with your friends and family, you have to slough through that annual necessary evil known as FINALS.  Whether you’re writing papers, studying for exams, or working on projects and presentations, you are certainly feeling the pressure to do a lot of quality work in a short period of time.  So how do you keep your sanity while still putting in your best effort?  You’re probably already aware that you should get good sleep, eat healthy food and drink plenty of water (to counteract the dehydration caused by all that caffeine you’re likely consuming), turn off your phone, and avoid Facebook, but what about the actual time you spend with your nose in the books? Here are a few tips to help you make the best of this stressful time:

Choose a Good Work Space
…[C]ognitive scientists suggest that alternating study spaces is a more effective way to retain information, according to the New York Times. Memory is colored by location, and changing your study locales increases the likelihood of remembering what you’ve learned.”[1]

Make Specific Study Plans
“‘Failing to plan is planning to fail.’ We have all heard and agreed with that old adage, but how many times do we still forget to plan? If you just start studying without a plan, you are likely to overlook important areas and over-study unimportant subjects. Plan your week, plan your day, and plan what to study.”[2]
Mix Up Your Approach
“In keeping with the age-old proverb that values quality over quantity, scientists have found that immersion is not an effective method of study, the New York Times reports. Rather than sticking to one subject and spending hours attempting to master it, you should switch between a few (related) topics. It’s less boring -- and you’ll learn more.”[3]

Take Frequent, Short Breaks
After studying for the time you found was best, you must then take a rest for about five minutes. Do something else not connected with your work. Listen to music, have a snack, refresh yourself - but don't stop thinking about what you were reading. This may be an unusual thing to do in the middle of a study session, but your brain needs that time to sort out the information in your short-term memory. At the end of the rest period, the information you were reading will be much clearer than it was to begin with. [4]

 Avoid Plagiarism, a.k.a. Academic Self-Sabotage
Since most plagiarism is unintentional, the best way to avoid plagiarism is to develop good habits of scholarship and writing, and to be familiar with the concepts related to plagiarism. Some of the necessary habits of scholarship are simple common sense. When writing a paper:

  • give yourself enough time to do a good job. Students who procrastinate are more likely to plagiarize because rushing makes them sloppy. (Being out of time is also the primary incentive for deliberate dishonesty.)
  • revise your paper. Significant re-writing can eliminate plagiarized passages.
  • proofread for errors. Proofreading can help you find missing citations and quotation marks, as well as other errors.”[5]
Stop Studying When You’re Ready
"How do you know when you've studied enough? It's not when you're tired of studying! And it's not when you've gone through the material one time! You should stop only when you get to the point that you feel confident and ready for whatever will be on the exam—when you're actually eager to see the exam to find out if you guessed its contents correctly."[6]

Hopefully these tips will breathe some new life into your study routine.  In the meantime, here are some books in the library catalog that you also may find helpful:

Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche. 158.12 Roche

The Overwhelmed Person's Guide to Time Management by Ronni Eisenberg with Kate Kelly 304.23 Eisenberg

Study Strategies Made Easy by Leslie Davis and Sandi Sirotowitz with Harvey C. Parker. 371.3028 Davis

Strategies for Studying: A Handbook of Study Skills. 378.170281 Strategies
The Freshman Survival Guide: Soulful Advice for Studying, Socializing, and Everything in Between by Nora Bradbury-Haehl and Bill McGarvey 378.198 Bradbury-Haehl

How to Succeed in College (While Really Trying): A Professor's Inside Advice by Jon B. Gould. 378.198 Gould

Up Your Grades: Proven Strategies for Academic Success by Ann Hunt Tufariello. 378.198 Tufariello

The Big Book of Relaxation: Simple Techniques to Control the Excess Stress in Your Life  edited by Larry Blumenfeld. 613.79 Big

Smart Food: Culinary Delights for Optimal Gray Cell Performance by Marlisa Szwillus. 641.5 Szwillus

Successful Time Management for Dummies by Dirk Zeller. 650.11 Zeller

How to Write Successfully in High School and College by Barbara Lenmark Ellis. 808.02 Lenmark-Ellis 2005

Essentials of the Essay: Writing, Reading, and Grammar 808.042 Dean


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