“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

These words ring true for college kids everywhere! The period between Thanksgiving break and winter vacation is stressful. The holidays are right around the corner, but we face one not-so-merry obstacle before Santa comes to town: finals week.

There’s hope for the motivated college student. Here’s how to make the most of finals season:

Before you tackle the beast

  1. Stay organized

It will save your life. Throughout the course of the semester we sometimes haphazardly throw things where they don’t belong — notes, assignments, you name it. Save yourself time and energy by making sure you know where all your materials are before you start studying. You’ll feel relieved.

  1. Declutter your workspace

Psychologists say that decluttering boosts self-confidence and energy. You’re less likely to be distracted or overwhelmed by your environment if your study space is neat and tidy.

  1. Get creative with study materials

Make it fun! Grab all the colored pens and highlighters you need. Pretty stationery, cute notebooks, the sky is the limit. Yes, your “chill” playlist on Spotify also counts. Being in the right state of mind is key.

Time to study

  1.    Tackle what you’re least comfortable with first

It seems like common sense, but sometimes we neglect to realize the value of prioritizing. Be pragmatic, not perfectionistic. You may feel tempted to follow the order of your syllabus, but it’s smarter to start with your content weaknesses. Review familiar material if/when you have time later.

  1. Don’t know something? Look it up!

The beauty of our world is the breadth of information we have at our fingertips! If there’s something in the syllabus that you don’t remember, do some quick research.

  1. Use foresight

Ask this critical question: what is my professor most likely to ask on this exam? Make an educated guess about what will be on the test by reflecting on the topics your professor dedicated the most time to.

  1. Know your study style

Solo or with friends? Library, dorm, or cafe? Music or no music? Ignore what everyone else is doing. Make the choices that are best for you personally.

  1. For vocab, take advantage of Quizlet/flashcards

These tools are especially helpful for memorization-heavy courses. Quizlet allows you to make your own study sets and browse thousands of sets created by other users. Get creative by sing the site’s diverse features — word games, mock test, fill-in-the-blank, and matching.

  1. Review past assessments

Look over quizzes and exams from the semester. There’s a chance your professor used past assessments to write the final. Even if not, reviewing will remind you of that professor’s exam style and help you master important content.

  1. Go to review sessions

If your professors or TAs are hosting review sessions, go! Key material will likely be covered.

  1. Focus on key takeaways

Realistically, you won’t remember everything covered over the semester. For every unit, try to focus on major takeaways rather than infinitesimal details. Cover your bases.

  1. Still have questions? Go to office hours

If you are still unsure about something, take advantage of your professor’s office hours. Ask questions. You’ll be glad when you understand the subject more fully. Your professor will also take notice of your effort!

You’re all done! What’s next?

  1. Sleep

Get your rest, girl! Your brain needs it. There’s nothing worse than feeling groggy and lethargic on exam day. Wake up feeling energized and ready to tackle the exam.

  1. Show em what you know!

Have a positive attitude. Say no to self-defeating beliefs. Be kind to yourself. You worked hard to get here, and now’s the time to show off all your effort and dedication!

Jenn B