Staying organized and listing tasks can help with studying. (Illustration by Junanna Chen)
Fountain Valley High School

A guide to studying for finals

The thought of finals and having to spend hours to cram information into your mind is nerve-wracking for many Barons. Check out these tips to ace your finals!

Here are five methods you can use during study sessions:

  1. Use the Pomodoro Technique. This technique focuses on studying in intervals. Pick a subject/task to focus on and set a timer for 25 minutes. When time is up, rest for five minutes and repeat. For every four “pomodoros,” take a 15 to 30 minute break. This method is fit for retaining information longer and is better than cramming and forgetting the next day.
  2. Alternate study locations. An experiment examined different students who had 40 vocabulary words to study. One group studied in two different rooms while the other group studied in one room. Altering study locations allowed the first group to do better because the brain associates what it learns with the environment. So when you study, consider switching rooms every time you take a break.
  3. Study in this order: definitely, probably and maybe. Limit studying unnecessary information you already know well and maximize time for key topics. This method is helpful when studying a few days before finals. You will at least understand the basics if time runs out.
  4. Talk it out with the Feynman TechniqueWrite the concept you are studying on a piece of paper and then all of the information you have learned down. Then, pretend you are a teacher explaining it — this will help you understand the concept faster!
  5. Create mind maps. Mind mapping is a tool used by many visual learners because it connects small pieces of information to a general idea, like a puzzle. Start with a blank sheet of paper or use an online tool such as mindmeister.com. Write the main topic in the center, add branches that connect the main ideas and include details under each main idea. Mind maps are an all-in-one study tool. They increase productivity and creativity, make you think about the topic and improve retention.

While study methods play a huge part in preparing for finals, so does your mental health. Here are five tips that will make studying a bit easier:

  1. Make a study schedule. This will allow you to feel more in control and organized.
  2. Study less. You read that right. Cramming information will only lead to forgetting. Don’t commit to long sections of studying; commit to short blocks of studying! Long hours of sitting means stress — something we want to avoid.
  3. Talk to friends. Reach out to them. You can host a study session over Zoom and test out the different study methods, as mentioned before. Talking to friends will make studying more enjoyable.
  4. Treat yourself. When studying gets to the point where you cannot cram in any more information, take a break. Watch a few TV show episodes or a movie or put on a face mask. Of course, don’t get sidetracked.
  5. Prioritize sleep. If you plan on pulling all-nighters, don’t. All-nighters add stress and increase the risk of forgetting information on the day of finals.

Though studying seems like the top priority, rest is essential. Take breaks in between studying and sleep well. Good luck on your finals!