Thursday, May 27, 2010


Counting down the days 'til summer? Me, too! But there are steps to take before we can enjoy the weather and activities that vacation promises.

To keep up your energy for finals, try a few mind-tricks:

1. Look at your current classroom grades and calculate what final exam scores you need to maintain your average. Post your goals in a conspicuous place like your bedroom door. It will be a gentle reminder when you'd rather be doing anything other than studying.

2. You may have Final Exam Study Guides for most of your classes. Plan rewards for completing the work pages -- maybe EVERY page. Even simple, silly things like stickers affixed to each finished page can be motivational. Or take a longer view and plan an outing with friends when a whole packet is completed. Ask your folks to have a special dinner as a reward for good study habits. Pick rewards that have meaning for you and which will celebrate your accomplishments.

3. On the serious side, if the classroom teacher or tutor hasn't assigned a completion rate for the Study Guide, make one yourself. I generally go through the packet once to answer the questions that I can without thinking too hard. This helps to increase my confidence and is motivating when most of the packet can be finished quickly.

The second run through is for the more complicated questions that I need to think about. The third pass is for questions I need to research a little by reviewing class notes, old homework assignments, the textbook and previous tests. These two steps are intended to refresh my knowledge and fill in any gaps from earlier in the semester.

The fourth time through is intended to maintain improvements by answering questions that I got wrong in the first place. This is the REAL study and should be completed at least 2 days before the final.

4. If you have a tutor or study partner, plan to meet after you've finished the study guide. Ask the burning questions that you haven't been able to remedy on your own. Don't be shy about asking for validation from your support system -- friends, family, tutor and YOURSELF.

5. Prepare a "quick guide" with the most vital information. Make it small, maybe bookmark size or pocket size. I've laminated several in preparation for future classes when foundational information may be helpful. Math concepts and grammar rules can be useful in college and even in preparing for the PSAT, ACT or SAT.

6. GET ADEQUATE REST! This is a stressful time for everyone. Those with test anxiety may be feeling the pinch, and those with test compulsion will never feel fully prepared. In either case, take the evening before a test to relax and dump the angst. Right before going to sleep, take out the "quick study guide" and reassure yourself that you are prepared for the next day's test.

7. Take time out after the day's tests are over. Lunch with friends or a special computer game are good, short recovery activities. If there are more tests the next day, study during the afternoon and go back to Tip #6.

8. If you find that studying for final exams is overwhelming, resolve to take this tutor's advice next semester: Begin preparing for finals on the first day of the semester! Keep following this blog for ideas to help you get off to a rousing start when school resumes in the Fall. By December, you'll be glad you did!


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