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preparing for finals

While undeniably the most dreaded time of the academic calendar, finals season can be productive and successful. With a little bit of planning and strategy, you can set yourself up to pass exams in flying colors. At Vista College, we want to help students to do their best in their finals, and these four exam preparation tips are just thing to make that happen. Follow this advice and you’ll find finals season is a lot less stressful than you were expecting it to be.

Target Your Problem Areas
The first thing to tackle when you’re planning your finals prep strategy is to figure out your problem areas. Take a look at each one of your courses from the semester individually. In each class, chances are there are one of two sections that you might have run into some difficulty with throughout the semester. If you feel totally confident in one class, you can leave it out, but these are the ten or so sections that you should devote the most time to improving and studying in the leading up period to exams.

Once you’ve established the areas that need the most work, try finding a partner, a tutor, or another resource that can give you some extra help and guidance in that specific area. If your professor is available, he or she is a great resource that can help elucidate some of your concerns and confusions about the material.

Break It Down into Manageable Chunks
Aside from the focus on what to study, you also need to consider how to study, and that often means figuring out your time management structure. Everyone works a little differently. Some of us perform better in the morning, some of us like to study late at night. But one of the strategies that tends to work best for everyone? Breaking things down into manageable chunks.

While you might think that your all-night cramming session is going to help your score an A on your exam, you’re deluding yourself. Giving yourself adequate time to prepare is always the best strategy, and that means breaking it down into sections. Try going chapter by chapter or lecture by lecture to tackle one piece at a time. You’ll be better able to grasp each concept as a whole and isolate the sections that you’re more unfamiliar with from the ones you have down.

Take Periodic Breaks
Throughout your studies, it’s important to take periodic breaks to prevent yourself from becoming exhausted. Staving off the effects of mental fatigue requires more than just another cup of coffee. While we don’t recommend taking off days at a time to watch TV, stepping back and taking an hour here and there to go on a walk is a good way to make sure you’re not overloading yourself. When you get back to your desk, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the next section and any challenges that come with it. The breaks should help keep your mood elevated throughout the exam period as well.

Manage Your Stress Levels
Speaking of keeping up your mood, managing your stress levels is an important part of staying healthy and on track during the exam period. Much of stress management consists of giving yourself sufficient time to prepare for your finals, but it also involves giving yourself some perspective. While your finals are important and they have a significant weight on your grades, they’re not the only thing in your life. Students should recognize the importance of adequately preparing for exams and doing as well as possible, but not at the sacrifice of their well-being. Looking for strategies to beat your stress? Huffington Post recommends working up a sweat at the gym, taking a break to do some light cleaning around the house, or finding a cute pet to play with. No matter how you do it, trying not to get too stressed over exams will probably help you perform better in the end.

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