Easy Tips for Prepping for Finals Over the Holidays

Gretchen Wegner | Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | Studying Tips | College | Finals | Holidays | Notes | Testing | Study Tools

This week on the College Prep Podcast with Gretchen Wegner and her co-host Megan Dorsey:

Thanksgiving is coming up soon, as are the winter holidays.

If you get started studying for finals now (or over the winter holidays, if your finals aren’t until the end of January), you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches later — plus, you’ll learn the information better! Today Gretchen shares:

  • How to put in more effort to studying without feeling like you’re working too hard
  • The importance of testing yourself using “spaced retrieval”, and a few simple ways to do this over the holidays
  • How to get yourself organized so you don’t waste time later finding important study tools
  • A crucial tip for how to use your notes so that you’re actually learning (rather than just faking it)
  • and more!

For more strategies about getting prepped for finals, check out Gretchen Wegner’s Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying.

Tune into the podcast by clicking here.

Rock Your Finals by Making an Exam Study Schedule

The first wave of final exams are upon us, which means (drum roll, please!) it’s time to map out the final exam study schedule.

This is easier said than done. I’m saddened that most teachers seem to pass out final exam review information *only* a week before finals. From the student’s perspective, one week of a study time for 7 classes is simply not enough.

If we really want students to learn to plan out their projects and become effective time managers, we need to give them the tools they need to do this. For a majority of students to do a thorough job planning and studying for their final exams, two weeks is necessary.

In the case of Cassandra, the student whose schedule is pictured above, we sat down to map out her study schedule 2 weeks before finals began. At this point we had information for 3 of her 7 classes, so we began to map them out on a calendar. Cassandra preferred to think through exactly what task she needed to do on each day in order to be ready, and so we wrote these tasks on her schedule. Click on the picture if you’d like to see it in more detail.

Tony, on the other hand, preferred to study only one subject each day. As a result, his study schedule looks like this. You’ll note that we put his schedule in the middle of the white board, and then around the edges we wrote specific steps for him to do to study for each of the classes. Click on the picture to see it in more detail.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to map out your time; what’s more important is that you make a plan! In fact, you might not stick to every detail of your plan; however, by taking the time to think through all your tasks in advance, you’ll be more likely to study over time, rather than cramming the night before.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

What is your study schedule like? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. If you know a student who you think could use this information, be sure to forward this article!


To Rock Your Final Exams, Organization is Key

Organized Desk

This is just a quick blog entry to celebrate one of my academic coaching clients. I’ll call him Oscar.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked into his bedroom last Wednesday evening. A transformation had occurred around Oscar’s desk.

Over the holidays, this high school freshman got unbelievably organized! I wish I could take credit for the impressive systems he created, but actually — Oscar did it all himself.

The picture (above) shows his new-and-improved desk space, and I’d like to highlight a few of the lists he’d posted:

  • His high school’s final exam schedule
  • A list of due dates leading up to final exams
  • A list of long term projects that he needs to track
  • A list of writing tips I’d made for him
  • A list of what his current grade is in each class, and what percentage of the overall grade that each final exam will play

Go Oscar!!! This kind of organization, not to mention the clean desk underneath all the lists, is a great way to set yourself up to  rock your finals.

One word of warning: Organization is only half the battle. For some creative types, it’s more fun to create systems than implement them. (Are you like this? I sure am! It’s why I work as an academic coach; I get to dream up all kinds of systems that other people get to implement).

Now that Oscar’s got a clean desk space, it’s time to buckle down and study.

P.S. If you’re a teacher reading this, please take note: it’s most helpful for students if they receive their final exams study sheets at least 2 weeks before finals exams are scheduled to begin! Most of my clients’ teachers don’t seem to be handing out the review sheets until 5 days before the final. If we really want kids to learn how to study for 7 major exams, we need to give them the time to strategize and plan!