Finals week: 3 study strategies to help you succeed

For some people, finals week can be one of the most stressful times of the school year. I’ve already written about ways to destress and ways to stay sane during finals week, but today I’m going to share three study strategies that can help you ace your final exams.

Before you head off to the library to implement these study tips, don’t forget to check out my post all about what to bring with you for a long study session at the library and above all, remember to focus and breathe! You can do this!


Finals week can be stressful, but implementing effective study strategies can help you succeed on your exams and feel less stressed while doing it. Here are three of my favorite techniques. | FINALS WEEK: 3 STUDY STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU SUCCEED | HONEYBEE JOYOUS


There is no shortage of advice out in the world about how to study and what study strategies to use. Generally, it’s important to start thinking about studying for finals at the very beginning of the semester. You want to set yourself up for success so that you have less to do at the end of the semester. However, this is sometimes easier said than done, and we often find ourselves staring down finals week with no clue where to start.

That’s where study strategies come in! First off, I want to point out that each student and each exam is different. What works for you might not be what works for me and studying for a French exam is going to be different from studying for a chemistry exam. Finding the best study strategies for you takes time and effort, but I’ve got three suggestions for some ideas you might want to try out. If you have any other strategies you like to use, please share them in the comments down below so we can all learn from one another!


Practice problems + exam review

Now, if you’re in a class that assigns problem sets (for example, a math, science, or economics course) you’re probably very familiar with practice problems. Even though it might be tedious, going through these practice problems in order to study for your final can be incredibly helpful. Not only will it be hands-on reinforcement of the material, but professors often base the final off of the midterm and the homework, so you will be extra prepared for the format and might even encounter a problem you’ve seen before.

If practice problems don’t exist in the subject you’re studying for (like in English, history, and foreign language classes), never fear! The same mentality can be applied to these classes, you just have to get a bit creative. I’d suggest going through your midterm and reviewing the questions you’ve already been asked. You can re-write all the exam questions into a Word doc and then go through and answer them again, or you can just focus on questions you got wrong or could improve on. If the course didn’t have a midterm exam, try going back through any papers you’ve submitted and edit them with fresh eyes, especially to include any comments your professor left.

No matter the course or the exam format, there’s usually a way to go back through what you’ve already been tested on and practice that information and that format again. You’re much less likely to be taken by surprise on exam day if you’ve made the effort to familiarize yourself with the exam format and what you’ve already been tested on. You’ll go in feeling way more confident and way more likely to succeed!


Pomodoro technique

This is one of the most popular and talked-about study strategies out there. I use this when I really need to get down to business and I don’t have any room for goofing around. I’d recommend this technique especially if you have a bunch of finals in a row or multiple exams in the same day because it will help you stay focused and get a lot done, as long as you follow its rules.

The idea behind this strategy is to help you focus on one task by building in breaks throughout a longer study time. It is timer-based and there are lots of apps out there based around this technique. You start by setting a timer to 25 minutes (that’s “one pomodoro”) and then work on that task (and nothing else!) for those 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, you get to take a short 3-5 minute break. Answer an email, take a quick scroll through Instagram, go buy a coffee, then get back to work! After four pomodoros (four 25-minute chunks, broken up by short breaks), you get to take a longer break for 15-30 minutes. Each full cycle lasts somewhere between 2-2.5 hours, depending on the length of your breaks.

If you have trouble staying focused when you’re studying or writing a paper, this is a really useful technique because you only have to stay focused for a specific amount of time and then a break is built in.


DIY study guide

I saved the best for last, because this is one of my absolute favorite study strategies of all time. Have you ever taken an exam where the teacher or professor let you bring a “cheat sheet” and after the test you realized you barely even looked at the sheet? That’s because creating your own study guide is a great form of studying in itself! Not only do you go through all the information, reading it and writing it down in your own words, but you also have to make choices about summarizing and synthesizing the information that ends up helping you internalize what you need to know.

I’ve had some great professors who provide a “study guide,” which is generally just a list of topics and terms we need to know. This is a great starting point and makes creating my own study guide really easy because all I have to do is flesh out what’s already there and answer the questions they’ve provided.

Even if you have to start completely from scratch, this strategy is still incredibly useful and not too difficult (even though it can be a little tedious). I like to have my notes, the professor’s PowerPoints, and my textbook handy. I’ll usually start with PowerPoints to start creating main points, topics, and terms. Then I’ll move on to my notes to flesh those out and the textbook to add even more detail.

Creating a study guide is also a great way to assess what you need to study further and what you already have a good handle on. As you’re going through, you’ll likely find that there are some topics you can already write paragraphs upon paragraphs about without referring to your notes or the textbook at all. There will probably also be topics that you only vaguely remember and you have to refer to the textbook a lot when filling out that portion of the study guide. Luckily, this study strategy not only helps you study while you’re making it, but also provides you a resource from which to quiz yourself once it’s been created.

Once you’ve built out your study guide, you can quiz yourself, or have someone else quiz you. If you want to get really hardcore, you can create flashcards based on the guide you created and what you still need to study. I love to have a friend, even one who’s not in the class, ask me the questions that I wrote for myself on the study guide and I will see how well I can answer them when the paper isn’t in front of me anymore. Plus, being able to explain a topic to someone else means you have a really great understanding of it!



If you want more study strategies, I’d recommend going through the archives of one of my all-time favorite blogs, Organized Charm. Just make sure you aren’t procrastinating on actually studying by reading about how to study (been there done that!).



{What’s your favorite way to study? Do you have any tips? Leave them in the comments so we can all learn from each other! I read and respond to every single comment.}



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