5 Studying Tips to Ace Final Exams

By Catherine Groux
Posted November 30, 2012 10:00 AM

With these studying tips, students can ace their final exams.
With these studying tips, students can ace their final exams.
As the fall 2012 semester comes to a close, bachelor's degree seekers across the country are preparing to take their final exams. While being quizzed on an entire semester's worth of content can seem stressful, it does not have to be. With these five study tips, students can find themselves on their way to nailing the most important tests of the semester.

Avoid Distractions

Many students study for exams while listening to music or casually texting friends on their cellphones, but for a high final exam score, this is not a good practice. Nicole Dudukovic, an assistant professor of psychology at Connecticut's Trinity College, told The Wall Street Journal that students are far less likely to remember the information they review amid distractions. While many students feel music or chatting with friends relaxes them, Dudukovic said this type of multitasking will not help individuals ace their finals.

Organize a Study Group

As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one. When preparing for an exam, it is often beneficial for students to study with their classmates. According to an article by the Casualty Actuarial Society, a professional organization of actuaries, there are several reasons for this. First, students may find they can tackle a challenging problem much more easily if they do it as a team. Additionally, study groups act as a solid support system since each member has the same goal: passing the test. Some people even find that study groups make preparing for an exam much more fun, as they are not only studying, but socializing with their peers as well. 

Avoid Late-Night Studying

The night before an exam, many students stay up late, hoping to cram in a few extra hours of studying before their big test. While they may think this will help them secure a better grade, studies show that skipping out on sleep to cram for a test can actually lead to worse grades.

In August, a study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) looked at 535 high school students. For two weeks, each student kept a diary on the amount of time they spent studying, how much they slept the night before and how they performed academically the next day. Researchers found that in most cases, those students who did not get enough sleep the night before an exam did worse than their peers, regardless of how much time they spent preparing for the test.

"If you’re really sacrificing your sleep for that cramming, it's not going to be as effective as you think, and it may actually be counterproductive," said study author Andrew J. Fuligni, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA.

Become an Active Learner

Some students prepare for their final exams by reading over chapters of their textbook or pages of their notes countless times. While this will help them retain bits of information, it is not an effective way to study, Business Insider reports. If students are not engaged in what they are reading, it becomes too easy for them to stare at a page while their minds drift to other topics.

Therefore, students should strive to find more engaging ways to prepare for their exams. Rather than reading grammar rules out of their French textbook, for example, students should try to converse in French using these grammatical principles or write down French conversations. Instead of memorizing historical dates, individuals can create a blank timeline and see if they can correctly plot when each event occurred. Above all, people tend to learn by doing, not passively reviewing.

Quiz Yourself

No matter how students choose to study, they will never know how much information they have retained until they quiz themselves on the material. After all, not even the brightest legal degree seekers walk into the bar exam without having taken at least a handful of practice tests.

One of the best ways students can quiz themselves on basic facts is by making flashcards. Today, there are even several Apple and Android apps that let students make flashcards right on their smartphones or tablets. While flashcards can be an easy and convenient way for students to study alone, if they are working in a study group, it is often effective to have each member of the group come to the session prepared with a handful of questions on the topic. That way, each person can ask the group their questions and everyone gets a chance to evaluate how much they really know.

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