Prepping for finals early saves student stress

Katie Wade

Most students would rather not think about fall semester finals before the end of October, but the reality is that finals are less than six weeks away. This realization might make some students’ breath shake and hearts staop.

In a survey by the American Psychological Association, published in 2009, 85 percent of students reported experiencing daily stress. The study also revealed that 74 percent of those students said that their academic grades aided their stress and 78 percent said that their academic school work contributed to the stress they experienced on a daily basis.

While a college students’ stress can never be completely relieved, there are resources available to teach students how to combat stress over tests, papers, homework and, of course, finals.

The key is preparedness, which only comes when one starts prepping for finals early. Fortunately, there are a multitude of people on campus who want to see them succeed and are ready and willing to assist in any way they can.

WU’s Center for Student Success and the Tutoring and Writing Center in Mabee Library is one of those resources for students wanting to improve their study skills before finals.

James Barraclough, Director of Undergraduate Initiatives and a Student Success Lecturer, wants students to remember that the Tutoring and Writing Center is here to help.

“Be sure to utilize the Tutoring and Writing Center, located on the third floor of the Mabee Library,” said Barraclough. “There is free tutoring offered for English, Math, Chemistry, Biology, and Psychology.”

Students can prepare for finals early by honing their skills in three particular areas: note-taking, study habits and memory.

According to Barraclough, it is essential that a student develops a note-taking system that reflects their learning style and the way they think. Students can visit if they aren’t sure which learning style best fits them.

“You need to play to your individual strengths,” said Barraclough. “Be sure to takes notes in a manner that works for you. One hint that I tell my own students is to write down anything your instructor writes on the board or specifically references on a PowerPoint presentation. If a professor takes the time to emphasize something, you’d better be sure you understand it, because the chances are high that it could come up on a future exam.”

Developing good study habits and maintaining them is the best way to prepare for finals in December. can help students create a study plan that fits into their existing schedule. The trick is making studying part of a daily routine.

According to Chris Schoonover of Lifehack, a student can hack their memory by first acknowledging how they learn and incorporating that into how they study. Routine and repetition are also extremely useful in enhancing memory.

“Repeating an activity, process, or detail can help you to recall it. If you incorporate what you want to remember into an everyday activity, you are exponentially more likely to remember it,” wrote Schoonover.

Even when a student has developed a study plan that works, they will at some point have a test sneak up on him. While some students think this means a long night of studying, Barraclough warns against the urge to cram.

“In general, just say no to cramming. If you find yourself needing to ‘cram’ for several hours the night before an exam, study in intervals. Studying in 20 to 50 minute increments and giving yourself 10 minutes in between is more beneficial than cramming for longer periods of time without a break. After you’ve studied, be sure to get a good night’s sleep,” said Barraclough.

Barraclough also noted that while it may be tempting to pull an all-nighter, the lack of sleep can impair your memory. Cramming also leads to anxiety, which can lower your ability to retain important information.

“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,” said Barraclough. “If you develop a study plan and follow it, then the day of your exam is just another day. Follow your normal routine (hopefully that involves a decent night’s rest and a good breakfast) and have confidence in yourself. Visualize the exam going well,” said Barraclough.