Piles of papers, projects, journals, and tests are forming and reaching new heights and competing with stress levels for the majority of students at Concordia College.Â We see this time twice a year, but somehow the frustration and anguish always seem to swarm students and interfere with their capability to perform to the best of their ability and remain healthy. Without preparation skills and self-knowledge finals week and the preceding days can destroy not only a studentâ€™s social life but also their mental and physical well-being.
So how can one form those sanity-saving preparation skills and self-knowledge?Â The self-knowledge is probably the most important of the two because it will help you identify which preparation skills you need.Â How do you learn information best?Â By writing it? Reading it? Maybe even by summarizing information and explaining it to others.Â A lot of people find that last one to be most helpful because it encourages them to put it into words and a sequence that makes most sense to them making it less likely to be easily forgotten.
Some students prefer making note cards or flashcards and some have realized that they do better just doing an outline.Â Look back at your academic career and figure out what method has best helped you retain information. Is it easier for you to just read through the outline again and again or do you do better quizzing yourself with the note cards?
Also, try to discover whether you work best solo or in a group.Â Groups can be extremely helpful in some cases. If you donâ€™t understand part of the material, there is another student to explain it to you.Â You can cover a broader portion at once.Â But, along with being in groups comes more distraction.Â As young adults, we are in a very social period of our lives.Â If you are someone that is going to put talking and joking high above productivity, opt to find a place for just yourself and your nice pile of books and notes â€“ because those may be your companions for a few hours or even days.
Lastly, it may be helpful to use a tactic called â€œchunking.â€Â I first learned about chunking in my psychology class my freshman year of college. The basic concept is to break down what you need to learn into manageable pieces.Â It implies that the human brain best understands information when there are only five to nine pieces introduced at a time. Donâ€™t try to learn everything that is going to be on the test at once.Â Take your time to break it down.Â Study for a certain amount of time and take 10 or 15 minute break.Â Repeat.Â Itâ€™s also been proven that music stimulates the brain, so if you are someone who can focus with background noise, try this.Â If you have a little more trouble with a lot of noise while you are studying, either try music that is simply instrumental with no vocals, or stick with no music. Michael Griffin explains it further in Learning about Learning.
When it comes to studying donâ€™t feel like you need to study exactly how your A+ roommate does.Â Sure, they may do well by studying in groups while listening to music and looking at an outline, but that doesnâ€™t mean your brain will intake information best that same one.Â So take a few minutes to figure out what works best to you and you will save yourself from a lot of stress this finals season.
For more study suggestions, take a look at this page.