I’ve noticed a majority of my time this month has been spent in the libraries, so I figured this months blog would be the perfect time to talk about finals, coping methods, and studying techniques!
Maynooth’s fall term starts in September so depending on if you’re a full year Erasmus student/one-term it will determine when you take your finals. If you are here only for the one semester then late December you will have to submit whatever work required from your professor, it will be different than the final prepared for the other students in January but a final nonetheless. From my observations, one semester only students usually have to write an essay as opposed to a standardized test with word counts ranging from 2500-5000. If this is the case for you then willpower is key here. Preparing early, setting timelines, making yourself an outline, etc etc weeks before the paper is due. I know with myself I can be a huge procrastinator especially when it comes to essays, I will usually wait until the night before to begin. My friend Karlie had 6 essays she had to write and didn’t start until the weekend before they were due, because of this she wasn’t able to hang out with her friends or take any leisure time. She felt very stressed and overwhelmed. Even preparing just one paragraph in advance can encourage the gears to turn in your mind when the time comes, as opposed to sitting in front of a blank page on a computer screen trying desperately to pull something out of nothing. We’ve all been there, so its best to avoid it in this scenario. Finals will make up the majority (if not all) of your grade so putting thought and effort into them is crucial!
Myself on the other hand, I am here for the full year so I take my finals alongside the other students at the end of January. It’s nice to come back to school after a refreshing holiday vacation with friends and family but it can equally be dangerous if you don’t touch up on your class material every once in awhile. I came back with more motivation to do better, but less recollection of my courses. So I’ve been spending at least 6 hours a day in the library attempting to reteach myself the content that I’ve spent the last four months on.
Everyone has different techniques to studying and they each depend on your way of learning: visual, auditiority, hands-on, etc.
For myself, I follow that of auditory. So I have been making myself study guides (moreso on the material I feel less confident in) and reading it outloud to myself or repeating it three times to really ingrain it into my brain. I then cover a keyword in my study guide and attempt to finish the sentences based on my memory. Flashcards could also be useful in this way! But I don’t find them too handy with economics courses. This is just one of many personalized ways, I’ve seen people use powerpoints, sparknotes, color coordinations, etc. etc.
I also find having a study buddy keeps me on track, not so much that we study the same material or even together for that matter, moreso that we agree to meet each other at 9am in the library to study. Having a commitment to someone else can make you feel more motivated to keep pace!
Also! Another friend who is a psychology major swears by chewing gum while studying then chewing that same flavor of gum during the exam, it’s supposed to help you recall the material you’ve studied. Same is to be said for studying in the room that the exam takes place in, it’s been studied and proven that test scores are significantly better in this scenario as opposed to testing in a different environment than where you take the exam.
Now for the most important aspect of this blog: coping methods. While your academics may seem important, nothing is of a higher priority than your health. Specifically your mental health. Don’t push yourself so hard to the point of breaking. You will get frustrated, you might not understand everything, you may worry about what will actually take place in the exam room, but don’t let that get to you. It will do more damage than good. Give yourself rewards at the end of each study session, take breaks every hour and walk around, meditate, go for a nap, punch a pillow, anything that lets you relieve your tensions. Much like studying techniques, everyone has a different coping technique. Which is again why I would stress the importance of starting early so you don’t overwhelm yourself. I like to make myself a cup of tea and watching a lighthearted show on Netflix, or run around outside. (Depends on the day and my mood.) I know some people who like to go to the gym after studying, others who cry it out, whatever you have to do to get yourself to that feel good place! And just remember you aren’t alone in this, you have a support system all around you. And remember retaking an exam is always an option, and that doesn’t mean you failed, it means you’re determined to do the best you can do. Wish me luck on my finals! Here’s hoping I do well.