Five Tips for Surviving Finals Season

It’s that special time of year again. Decorations on the street, people greeting each other with cheer, snow frosting the tops of the mountains. That’s right, it’s Finals Season. This can be a super stressful time of year, for kids, parents and teachers alike, as they try to cram in as much learning as they can before the needed holiday break. 

But there are ways to avoid the stress of finals. Here are five tips that can help keep your finals (and your holidays) merry and bright.

1.     Find a Good Study Spot

A good study spot is quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of the house. If the older brother is playing Halo right next to the study spot, it’s probably a good idea to find a new spot. The study spot should also be stocked with materials like pens, post it notes and flashcards to minimize unnecessary trips.

2.     Flashcards and Highlighting!

Once you’ve found a good study spot, what’s the best way to study? There are several good tricks, but the best ones boil down to REPETITION. It’s crucial to reinforce the information. With that in mind, flashcards are an incredibly useful tool. As the student reads a chapter or reviews an assignment, they should pause and make a flashcard for a key term, equation or character. Then at the end of the reading, memorize those flashcards. Not only will they remember the key terms, but the cards will jog the memory and aid in making inferences as well.

Another good method to reinforce information is highlighting, but it must be done correctly. Too many students just highlight random sentences without taking in any information. After highlighting something, create a flashcard for it and outline the chapter by hand on a separate piece of paper in order to reinforce the information.

3.     Turn Off the Phone

No matter how much a student tells you, or themselves, that they can have their phone on them and stay focused, it will be a distraction. During a study block, at the very least put the phone on airplane mode to avoid notifications, and maybe even leave it in another room. Studying must be a focused activity, and the phone and social media will negatively affect that focus.

4.     Study Before Bed

The best time for the brain to reinforce that information is, funnily enough, at night! The “consolidation” process of creating a memory occurs best while the cortex is fully engaged, which is during sleep. Therefore, studying directly before bed has been proven to yield significantly better results than studying earlier in the day. However, studying IN bed has not yielded better results. In my experience, all it leads to is falling asleep with your book on your face. Stay in your study spot! 

5.     Practice Self Care

Studying is obviously crucial during finals week, but over-studying is not. Make sure to take short “brain breaks” during review blocks to keep the mind fresh. And after studying is finished, remind the student to make time for things they like to do as well. Keeping the brain happy is almost as important as keeping it engaged when preparing for a big test.

 Finals week is scary, but with these practices, it doesn’t have to be. And remember, an hour of good, focused studying beats 4 hours of distracted studying every time!