These next two weeks for me are going to be spent studying for four exams next week. Finals are tough, because you have to schedule your own studying and make sure you’re getting enough done. There are no homework assignments due to keep you on track. It’s all on me!
This semester I have four finals, which is more than I’ve ever had before, and although I have classes this week, there are no deadlines for me in any of my classes. That means I have to develop a two-week study plan in order to be successful during my exams.
Here’s how I develop my own finals schedule:
For me, I know my chemistry exam is the most important one for me. Luckily, it’s at the end of the week so I have the most amount of time to study for it. I also know my political science exam next Thursday will be important, so I’ve accounted for that in my schedule.
Communications Law is just like a regular exam, so I won’t need to study any more for it than I have for the other exams, and my first Religious Studies exam went really well and the final isn’t cumulative, so I expect to do well on it.
2. Plan to study in different locations.
Unless you have a space you know you can go to day after day and get effective studying done, identify several locations where you can go to do different kinds of studying. I try to plan for three different types of places: at home (or in your room), somewhere off-campus and somewhere on-campus.
The advantages to having different locations is that you can reset your focus when you arrive at a new location. I know for me I can do casual studying in my room, but I often get distracted by the television. I also can’t spread out my books on my desk, so I have two locations on my list that have larger tables.
I like to have one of my locations be a food place, so I chose Bread Co. (AKA Panera if you don’t know), because I can go during meals or order a drink for a long study session. My on-campus location is the Res Life resource office, which is usually pretty quiet and has a lot of big tables.
3. Make a plan
I’ve planned out times everyday for the next two weeks when I will be studying. I know I can’t study more than four hours at a time without getting stir-crazy, so I don’t have any blocks longer than that. I’ve also designated the locations for each study session, which helps me mix it up.
Here’s an example of my schedule for this Friday. It’s Reading Day, so there aren’t any classes:
I’m planning to get out of my room and study in the morning at Bread Co. I know if I stay in my room, I’ll turn on the Today Show and spend my morning watching TV and playing online. I’m giving myself the incentive to get out early by having breakfast there.
From 12-2:30 p.m., I’ll get lunch and have a little break before working on a paper for Religious Studies in my room and practicing my flute.
After 5 p.m., I’m not planning to study for the rest of the day. I know I’ll need to spend some of my Friday night doing something else. This leads me to my next point:
4. Plan for breaks and sleep.
My schedule allows for time to run, watch some Cardinals games and get the sleep I know I need to study effectively. I’ve also planned to spend the Tuesday of finals week with Allen because it’s his birthday. It’s really important for me to have breaks because if I shut myself off too much, I won’t be able to study effectively when I need to. Breaks help me be able to shut out distractions when it’s time.
5. Stay focused when you need to
I know I tend to get distracted when I study while I’m watching baseball or if I’m in my room, and I’ve accounted for this. I know I can do some casual studying during these times, but when I really need to get work done, I’ll be out of my room at one of my other study spaces.
One tool I started using last week is the SelfControl app. It’s a website blocker that you can’t turn off once you start the timer, even if you delete the app or restart your computer. Knowing that there’s no way to turn it off helps me SO much. I’ve only ever set it for an hour at a time, but this week I may go even longer so I can focus.
I think all of my finals scheduling will really help me do well next week. I’ll keep you updated on the goings-on throughout the next two weeks and I’ll try to keep it interesting on the blog. I’m sure you won’t want to see photos of my studying day after day!