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  • Finals: helpful study tips

    By International Orientation Student Leaders

    It's finals time at U of I! This week, our International Orientation Student Leaders share some insights and tips on how to approach studying for finals and keep stress levels at a minimum. Best wishes to everyone!

    • Read all the lecture notes and do past exams! Study in groups.
    • Use mind maps! Arrange topics on a “spider web”; this will make it easier to “see” the links between concepts and topics learnt.
    • I bring my bible to the examination, I am serious! When I get stuck on a problem, I put my hand on the bible and pray. However, the key in your prayer is not asking for the answer, but asking for the peace in your mind :)
    • Use time wisely! It is helpful to organize and plan how much you need to review for exams. Write down the schedule and take breaks every hour.
    • Do study for finals (and don’t assume you can recall everything). Make your own study guide on only one paper, like a cheat sheet. (I found it very helpful for me). During the exams, stay calm and read questions CAREFULLY.
    • Be sure to look back at lecture notes. A lot of the times, the answer to some questions were not in the textbook but about something the professor discussed in class. Also, make room for some fun activities! We are human, and we need breaks.
    • Close any web sites that may distract you from study. Don’t drink too much coffee or stay up too late, your brain will not function well. Math? Do practice problems! History? Memorizing!
    • If a group study is your thing, go for it, but avoid meeting up with students, who stress out too much the night before the exam because they will stress you out in turn.
    • Read lecture notes and write them down on separate papers (paraphrase!). Make sure you really understand the materials instead of just copying them down. Now, they are your study guides. If you want to be more prepared and have more time, read textbooks. While reading, you can add some important points that weren’t covered in lectures or information that help you understand the materials on the study guides. Study your final version of study guides over and over until you feel comfortable explaining to others. I found explaining to my friends or even just pretending like I’m teaching someone very helpful to remember the materials.
    • Looking back at ALL of your homework and test problems! Once my engineering professor told me a secret about the test format... Where most professors put 60% of problems in the test is similar to homework problems! AND always believe in yourself and there is always somebody to go to!
    • If your exams are back to back, then make sure you start studying for the subjects earlier so that you will not get so nervous the night before the exams. I find it helpful to study a subject for maximum 2 hours per session before I switched subjects. My brain gets bored when I focus on the same subject for too long therefore I’m more productive when I study a subject for short period of time but with multiples sessions. :D All the best!
    • Going over past exams is a good idea. Also, asking questions is a great way to check your understanding of the materials of the class.
    • Make sure to take advantage of the last few office hours with your professors and TAs! They’re there to help you, and are happy to assist you with anything you’re having trouble with. Just don’t hold your breath for some last minute extra credit! Also, make sure that you set some time aside to be with friends and relax. Hey, even scientific studies have shown that your brain needs the break!
    • Past exams may be important, but homework is more important than past exams. Make sure to ask TAs if anything is not clear on the homework, and otherwise it will be fine. Relax, it’s just a final!