As you prepare for finals, consider these tips. .
***Create a Written Schedule. Write out a study plan at the beginning of every month of the semester, and stick to it. Try to plan in at least 3 hours prep time for each hour of class. The three to one ratio is what is often recommended, and can be what you need to really “get it.” Plan in time to write practice exams.
***Be Aware of Your Most productive and Least Productive Hours. Make your active study hours when you are the most awake and alert, and choose more passive tasks when you less productive. For example, work on completing practice tests when you are wide awake. Listen to recordings of lectures or outlines when you are not as wide awake. Don’t try to read complex material when you are already burned out. What are these hours? Depends on your, your body and your schedule. Your most productive time may be the morning or, for you it might be midnight. Only you know. Working students: consider getting up an hour earlier and study one hour before work, one hour at lunch, and one hour right after work rather than trying for work 3-5 hours straight after dinner and a full day of work.
***Use Better Materials not just More Materials. Do not buy every outline or study supplement you see. Too much info will distract you, and some of that material is not from reliable sources. Do read a good supplement. Or watch a reliable video lecture. (For law students, reading through one good hornbook before and after studying your cases and you may find you save time and increase comprehension.) In addition to talking with your professors, you can consult your Library faculty and your Academic Success faculty for suggestions about reliable supplemental materials.
***Flexibility. If your study plan isn’t working (meaning, if you are not learning what you need to), change it. Think about whether the times you are studying are effective. Is the place conducive to focus? And, are you working in the most efficient time blocks on each subject your will be tested on?
***Focus. Reduce Distractions. Limit time spent on other things in your life to make more time for studying. Ask yourself what you can give up, and give up some other things.
***Capturing time. Use commute time (for ex., listen to podcasts, make recordings of yourself reading rules from your own prepared outlines, etc.,) and listen to them in the car, train or bus. Use exercise time -listen to lectures on a walk or run or bike ride. Use family and friends time –write flashcards and have willing family members or friends help quiz you. (Younger kids love to quiz their parents!) Use meal time –form study groups with classmates and talk cases over lunch or dinner, i.e. combine studying with a meal).
***Sleep. Eat well. Exercise. Do not cheat yourself out of too much sleep. More sleep will make your study time more efficient. Chances are you don’t absorb or retain what you try to “read” when your eyes are half shut and glazing over. Stay alert, and be efficient. Eating healthy foods will keep your brain on high power. And, exercise will provide a release valve for your stress while boosting energy for your studies.
***Consistency. Better to give one hour to studying every day than to try to do a seven hour Sunday and nothing all week. Do not plan on just cramming for finals; prepare consistently all semester.
Good luck on finals and throughout your education!