Study tips to help students approach finals the right way

By Farah Bassyouni Dec2,2022

As the last two weeks of the fall semester approach, two critical tasks are on the minds of many — finishing the last of the semester’s work and preparing for final exams. The rigor and workload of a college semester’s final weeks are totally new for first-year students. For returning students, it’s all too familiar. 

Most students will spend a great deal of their time next week stooped over books and trying to retain as much material as they possibly can for their final tests of the semester. Many have a study tip that they attribute their success to. 

For some, location is paramount. Senior Javier Romano is a big believer in the power of his environment to get him in the right frame of mind. 

“I’ll usually go to my room, open a window, play some music and maybe light a candle. Anything I can do to get comfortable,” Romano said. 

Others prefer to venture outside of their room, and don’t settle in one place. Junior Natalie Wajda likes to switch up the location of her studying every once and a while to keep herself focused. 

“I try to find new places. If I stay in one spot I get distracted,” Wajda said. “Lately I’ve enjoyed studying in Dugout.” 

Dugout is a popular study spot on campus for students who don’t mind background noise, but it isn’t the best spot for those who prefer to study in places with minimal environmental distractions. 

First-year Andrew Ortega recommends finding a quiet room during late nights at State Farm for a more secluded study experience. There’s also the private study rooms of Ames, which are sure to see plenty of traffic in the coming week. 

For others, the structure and management of their study time is the key determinant of the quality of their study experience. 

Junior Litzy Morales recommends breaking up longer study sessions into shorter ones over many days, which is something that’s helped her avoid burnout. 

“You have to space it out or you’re done for,” Morales said. “It can get overwhelming, but you have to remember that it’ll all be okay in the end.”

 Junior Brendan Baumgarten agreed on the importance of creating a study schedule. “When you get done with the semester and focus more on the finals, you should get in a routine and study a little each day,” he said.

Baumgarten also recognizes the importance of taking a break when you need to. 

“I was in Ames last year studying, and I decided to get up and walk around for a while,” Baumgarten said. “I found a book and started reading it to activate my brain in different areas.”

Trying to study for long periods without breaks can be less effective than shorter, more intense study sessions that are broken up by breaks, according to professor of Psychology Marie Nebel-Schwalm. 

One tip to prevent study burnout is to realize that planning long study sessions while expecting to stay focused the entire time is not realistic. It’s also potentially counterproductive,” Nebel-Schwalm said. “Instead, break up your time into 30 minute chunks where you study for 25 minutes, and take a 5-10 minute break, and then repeat the cycle.”

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