As a parent, family member, friend, or Georgia Tech staff, you are probably as worried as your student is at the prospect of their Final Exams at Georgia Tech. If your student has been doing the right thing, studying consistently, attending every class, taking notes during lectures, completing all assignments and utilizing campus resources as needed, all should be well. These habits will put your student in good stead for finals. Many students find that preparing for an individual class for 60-90 minutes per day, five or six days per week, will leave them well-prepared at exam time. If your student has not been consistent, there is still time to prepare. Below are a few tips that you may wish to share with your student:
Start NOW. There are several quizzes and tests scheduled prior to the final exam. Don't lose focus. Prepare fully for them. As you get closer to finals, be more intentional and intensify your studying. This should start approximately 1-2 weeks before the finals.
Know what to expect
When is your final? Where? Is your final cumulative or does it only cover the last few weeks of class? Is there grade replacement with your final? What percentage of the grade is your final exam? Be sure you know the answer to all these questions so that you can determine what you will need to earn the grade you desire. Talk to your professor and TA regarding topics and format of the final.
Make a calendar outlining a daily schedule of topics for review. Be thorough. Use it. Spreading study sessions out over time - distributed practice – is the most effective way to study. By creating a balanced study plan and schedule, you will be able to study each subject in its entirety and ultimately boost your test performance.
Self-test & Review Sessions
Underlining, highlighting, re-reading, and summation are not the most effective ways to study. Teaching something to someone else and self-testing have been proven to be the most effective strategies (this is why review sessions with classmates are so important!). Try to complete a practice test at least a week prior to the final. This will help you know where to focus your studying. Be sure to make the test as similar to what the professor has shared as possible. You should time the test and take it without any aids. If your professor allows use of old exams, use them to determine how much you know and where you will focus. If you do this ahead of the exam and still have outstanding questions, you will have time to go to see your professor, TA, or tutor for clarification.
Don’t wait until the night before your exam to begin studying for it. Instead, begin preparing now! Set aside study time, review notes from class, and plan early. This will help you feel prepared. On the other hand, cramming causes anxiety, which lowers your ability to retain information. (While studying, take short breaks every hour or so, for approximately 10 minutes. Leave your study area when you do — that bit of fresh air may be just what you needed to clear your head.)
Avoid the all-nighter
Almost every college student pulls an all-nighter, but it is a bad idea. All-nighters impair reasoning and memory for as long as four days. Get sufficient sleep. You need at least seven hours of sleep a night to function. During sleep, the brain synthesizes information, especially topics covered in the hours before bedtime. You want to be as fresh as possible and able to fully engage your working memory when you take the exam.
Turn off your cell phone. That means no facebook, no Twitter, no reddit, no Tumblr, etc. They are unnecessary distractions, so while studying, disconnect for a couple hours. You may be surprised at how much you can accomplish when there’s silence and focus.
During finals, it’s easy to overindulge on junk food, up your caffeine intake, and basically suspend all personal hygiene. Don’t fall into this rut. Instead, schedule time for healthy meals and regular exercise.
For more information on how to succeed at Tech, visit success.gatech.edu.