Finals FAQ’s …..Answered!

kcFinals time has finally arrived! You may find yourself asking a lot of questions about how you should prepare for your finals. We have the answers to some of the most common questions!

I have so many exams to study for; how can I maximize my time when studying?

Consider your preferred learning style. When studying, do you learn best by: using images and diagrams? Repeating aloud the material and talking about it with others? Working with models and being physically engaged with the content? Reading and writing….and then, rereading and rewriting? These characteristics describe four different learning styles – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, read/write.   Draw on study strategies that match your preferred way to learn in order to maximize your study time.   Find specific study strategies for each learning style by viewing the Targeting your Learning Style for Success presentation in the Academic Success & Study Strategies section on our resource page.

Where do I get the help I need?First, consider what kind of help it is that you need. Are you struggling with course content? Need help making a study plan? Stressed out? Once you determine what kind of help you need you can pinpoint the appropriate campus resource(s):

o   Professors – Don’t forget that your teacher is the one who writes the exam! Take advantage of office hours and get the information you need.

o   Academic Achievement Center– Stop by the AAC for tutoring: “Last Minute Finals Q&A Sessions” run by AAC tutors.

o   Library Resources – The library offers extended hours during finals to accommodate busy schedules. Also, check out the schedule for the “Relax your Brain” tables.

o   Writing Center – Don’t delay getting assistance with your papers. Visit the writing center to make an appointment or call 410-704-3426.

o   Counseling Center – Call or visit the counseling center to learn about programs and workshops that can help to reduce stress and anxiety during this busy time of year.

What if my “final” is a paper?

Start drafting your paper as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to revise your paper a few times before turning it in.   Wayne Robertson, Director of TU’s Writing Center suggests these tips for revising your paper:

o   Read aloud to catch errors and sentences that sound awkward. In any given day, you listen to a lot more language than you read. The result is that your ear is usually a much better editor than your eyes. Find yourself a quiet room and just read the entire paper aloud. Any time you stumble, rework that sentence to make it sound smoother.

o   Use an outline…after you have a draft.   Try this: After you’ve written your paper, look at each paragraph individually. What is the purpose of that paragraph? Is it to introduce a new point? Is it to provide another piece of evidence to support a prior point? Is it to examine a counter-argument? Organization is best addressed on the paragraph level. Once you understand the purpose of each paragraph, you can see the overall movement of your argument, which will help you reorganize. After making any larger organizational changes, now go through and rewrite the first sentence of each paragraph based on its purpose. If the paragraph is introducing an alternate perspective, you might start the paragraph by writing, “Of course, some may argue…” If the paragraph is adding the consequences of an idea, you might write “The consequences of changing this policy….” If organization is something you usually have trouble with, this simple exercise can really help. faq

o   Get feedback from other readers. Students often assume good writers work effortlessly. They don’t. Writing is difficult for everyone, and almost everything that‘s published has been looked at by multiple people. Ask other people to give you feedback on where they get confused, about where they might not be convinced of your argument, and on how focused the ideas seem to be. Ask friends, family and faculty for input, and of course, use the writing center

I am stressed about my finals, what do I do?Exam stress can be reduced if the right strategies are put into action. Study early and often to avoid the additional stress that last minute cramming causes. Create a balanced schedule during exams that integrates focused studying, breaks and rewards. Practice regular deep breathing and remember to get lots of sleep. Use your bed only for sleeping. If you find you are restless and cannot get your finals out of your mind – get up, leave your bedroom and create a worry list that you will tackle the next day (Sharer, N., Towson University Counseling Center). Listen to relaxing music before bed and silence your cell phone. A little bit of nervousness during exams is normal – take a deep breath and put your hard work into action.

Should I cram or should I sleep? It can be tempting to wait to the last minute and try to stay up really late or not even go to bed at all when trying to study for finals. However, getting a good night’s rest is just as important as studying all of the information that you need to cover. There have been countless studies conducted to support this and they have shown that 8-9 hours of sleep the night before an exam improves the ability to recall information studied. They have also shown that too little sleep is harmful for your recollection on exam day. This isn’t your pass to not study for your test; your studying needs to be done in a way that allows you to get the amount of sleep that you need to perform to the best of your ability on exam day.

Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist
Academic Achievement Center

Jennifer Wendt
Learning Specialist
Academic Achievement Center

Brittany Bell
Graduate Assistant
Academic Achievement center

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