3 Ways to Start Preparing for Finals Right Now

It may be the beginning of November, but now is the best time to start getting ready for final exams.

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I am in my final year of college, and boy, it has been a journey! I am in my seventh semester, and this December will mark my seventh set of finals at the University of Arizona. 

I don’t want to act like I’m a pro when it comes to final exams, but I have been through them many times now, so I think I might know a thing or two about how to prepare – or, at least, how to get through them as painlessly as possible.

Read on to see my top three pieces of advice for preparing for final exams ahead of time. I know you may not want to think about them, but if you start right now, you’ll have a major advantage once finals roll around. 

These are my tried-and-true tips that I’ve been using since my freshman year, and I hope that they might help you, too!

1. Start highlighting your notes and books.

Highlighted book
Highlighting your notes can draw your eyes to important information.

This piece of advice is a classic when preparing for any test. Highlighting your notes and books (as long as they aren’t rentals!) is the most effective way I’ve found to boost my memory. 

When I highlight something, I swear my brain absorbs the information more easily than if I did not highlight it. Taking a quick second to highlight a phrase or paragraph while you do your normal reading can help you remember the most important parts of your notes. In addition, it makes it easy to find said info when it’s time to do serious studying later.

Color-coding with highlighters is another technique that I like to use, especially if the notes I am highlighting contain a lot of important information. You can use various colors to differentiate between important dates, processes, quotes, and theories – or, of course, you can make your own pattern that works best for your particular area of study.

2. Get into a solid exercise routine NOW.

Woman working out near the beach on a pink exercise ball
Exercise can improve your mood and help you de-stress.

We have all heard that exercise is good for your body in a multitude of ways. We know that it’s good for the body physically, but it’s also beneficial to your mental processes. 

Once finals week arrives, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the energy to start a new routine. Therefore, now is the perfect time to get yourself into the fitness habit. If your schedule allows, designate the same time every day – or every other day – to exercise, whether for 20 minutes or an hour. If you do this consistently, your body will adapt and actually start to crave exercise – cool, right? (For more on this, see our tips for getting into an exercise routine.)

I also like to use exercise when I come to a standstill in my studying. If I have writer’s block or I come to a passage in my reading that doesn’t make sense, it’s the perfect chance to get up and move. There are two options when using this method – you can try to totally clear your mind, or you can think about what you were struggling with and try to work through it. Both of these methods can help, depending on the issues that you’re having. Give them a shot!

It also doesn’t hurt that exercise also produces endorphins, so a little study break can help motivate you to keep going and get a good grade. (Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t fail their finals. Or something…)

3. Train yourself to stay on a consistent sleep schedule.

Sleepy Student
Go to bed – don’t fall asleep at your desk!

This is a tip that we’ve all heard since elementary school. My mom used to say, “You need a good night’s sleep if you want to do well in school!” And, well, she was right.

We can all relate to the feeling when you stayed up too late the night before a school day, and then you feel like a zombie walking around campus. This feeling causes us to have trouble focusing, which is a problem when it comes to studying. And, unfortunately, that afternoon nap doesn’t make up for the sleep that you have already lost.

In order to stay healthy and keep your grades up, a solid, consistent sleep schedule is a must. Our bodies repair themselves and regenerate during sleep, and you won’t be able to do as well in school if you don’t give your body the time to rest. Start developing good sleep habits now, and once finals arrive, your body will be in good shape for the studying you need to do.

How are you going to prepare for finals?

My final exams start the second week of December, and I have already filled out my agenda so I know when and where my exams will be. Take the time to prepare for finals so you don’t end up scrambling at the last minute!

Do you guys have any tips to start preparing now? What are your best finals week survival strategies? Help a fellow CF reader out by sharing in the comments!

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