The End is Here

photo of a pencil filling out a testAs the end of the semester approaches, many students are preparing for final exams. This is the most stressful time of the year; Christmas is around the corner and final exams are looming.

It can be even more stressful when you have children to take care of as well. As a single mother that works and has two sons life can be very busy and chaotic this time of year; I know from personal experience how hard it can be to maintain good grades while maintaining a home and family. This is my last semester at GCC before I move on to NAU Extended Campuses for my bachelors. Like myself, many students will be moving on – either with their studies or careers. Having good study habits will only help your overall grades. Lets face it, studying is BORING, but there are ways to make it easier for yourself and keep your eyes open. Here are some tips I have found useful over the past couple years I have been at GCC.

Preparation is a key to success. Gather all your books, class notes, post-its, extra paper, pens, pencils and highlighters and any other materials you may need. Having these things ready and nearby makes studying much easier. Set aside a time that you will be undisturbed by outside noise (this is the hardest part for me). Let your children know what you are doing and ask them not to bother you with menial things. Turn off your cell phone to avoid being distracted by it and make sure you have snacks and drinks on hand.

Once you have your materials, make flashcards, and highlight important information using different colors. I also use post-its to write down key points and it is also good for a quick refresher right before the exam. Doing this has helped me retain the information better because I can associate certain things with the color pen or highlighter that I used. I have found that rewriting or typing up important notes from the textbook and in-class lectures, helps me remember more.

Organizing a study group can also be a useful tool. It is a way for classmates to teach each other and it is an environment in which most students feel more comfortable to ask questions about things they do not understand. If this is not appealing to you, worry not! You can teach what you know to your friends and family. If they are not willing, teach the information to your dog, cat, fish, hamster, whoever will sit and listen!

Make sure to take breaks often. This gives your brain a rest and revitalizes you so you can keep going! This does not mean just set your books down for a while. Get up and move around. Take the dog for a walk or find some quick exercise you can do like running in place or jumping jacks; these are good ways to get a burst of energy again.

Do not forget to eat! A stomach that is grumbling can be very distracting. Studies show it’s actually harder to learn when you’re hungry! So eat a good meal before you start your studying. Eating snacks like carrots or crackers can help keep hunger away and keeps me from getting bored while studying. I find that crunchy snacks work best for me, because the noise from chewing them keeps me awake.

Having music playing helps to keep you focused; as long as the music is not distracting. I find listening to classical music works best for me because it is soothing, which relaxes me, and it is not distracting because there are no words for me to sing along to. Music will also help to keep you awake while studying.

Be sure to get enough sleep before attempting a study session. I have found that when I try to study when I am tired I do not retain most of what I went over and I am constantly fighting to stay awake. A good night’s sleep can go a long way!

Most importantly I have learned that you must only study for one subject at a time. To do this I make a study schedule for my classes. I give each class 3-4 days of study time for finals. In my experience, if I study for multiple subjects in one sitting is too much information for my brain to handle and information can get jumbled and forgotten.

Many of us feel overwhelmed during these last few weeks of the semester, but if you prepare yourself adequately you will find that it is not as daunting as it seems. There are many other ways to help you with your finals, these tips are things that I have found helpful over the past two years at GCC.

Good luck on finals and in your future endeavors!