Spring semester is finally wrapping up, but not in a way that anyone could have seen coming. Most college students are facing the approach of their first-ever remote finals week, done entirely online and at home. Though finals have always been far from easy, students are now expected to study for hours on end without access to their typical study spots, in-person study groups, or sometimes even reliable internet connection.
Though schools and individual professors are doing their best to make education accessible for students, the fact remains that this upcoming finals week is going to be a lot different than what you're used to. That said, there are still a few things you can do to ensure your success despite the circumstances.
1. Let the people you're living with know when you plan on studying.
For those living with a lot of other people, requesting a completely silent home is usually out of the question. Let the members of your household know when and where you plan on studying, that you won't be available during those times, and that you'd appreciate if they tried to keep it down until you're done for the day.
2. Change up your study area.
Last finals week, the sky was the limit when it came to study spots: your dorm, the study room, the library, the student center, Starbucks, and any other nook that could fit you and your laptop. With most of those options out of the question, you can break the monotony of having to study in your house by moving your workspace to different rooms or even outside. It's not much, but it's better than secluding yourself to one room for the better part of the next few weeks.
3. Start early.
This one applies for any finals week, but it's especially important now that you've essentially been teaching yourself. You likely don't have as firm a grasp on the subject matter as you would had you actually been in class, so starting to study early is the key to making sure you really know the material before you take the final.
4. Plan out your finals and know what's expected.
Gone are the days of walking into a room, taking your exam, and leaving; online exams bring up a whole new set of variables you're going to have to know before you take them. What time is the exam? What do you need for it? Is there a remote proctor? Is your professor allowing any extra resources? How do you submit the test? Figure these out long before test day so you know exactly what you're expected to do for each final.
5. Set chunks of time each day to NOT study.
When you were on campus, you didn't study for twelve hours a day because you had other things going on, like clubs or sports or hanging out with friends. Now that you have your workspace pretty much always in sight and no other excuses, it's easy to feel guilty about not doing work at all hours of the day. Making a clear separation between the time you spend studying and the time you spend relaxing will make things a lot less stressful, and might even make you feel more productive when you do study.
6. Form study groups via video chat.
Just because you can't actually get together with people from your class doesn't mean you can't study with them. Take advantage of resources like Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Cisco Webex to go over material with other people taking the final, just like you would if you were taking it in person.
7. Email. Your. Professors.
Everyone's confused right now, and you no longer have the ability to pop in during office hours. Don't be afraid to email your professor if you're confused on something, even if it seems inconsequential. It's better to make sure you know what's going on than to be alone and confused on test day.
8. Get creative with your study breaks.
For better or worse, studying from home means that you are no longer subject to some of the welcome distractions that come with college, like nights out with friends, dinner with your roommate, or even just walking to and from class. Break up the monotony of studying by going for a walk, working out, making a snack, reading a book, watching your favorite show—anything that's not poring over notes.
9. Talk yourself through the material.
Studying alone may not be fun, but it does have one major advantage: there's no one to judge you for your weird study habits. One such habit is talking to yourself, which multiple studies have proven to be beneficial when it comes to retaining information. If you feel like you're in a rut and just can't grasp something, you now have all the freedom in the world to talk yourself through it without getting weird looks.
10. Don't sweat the small stuff.
At the end of the day, this is new for everyone. The likelihood of you absorbing information the same way you would with a traditional learning experience is slim to none, and all of your peers are having the exact same struggles as you. This is new territory for everyone, professors included, and no one expects perfection. So breathe, keep trying your best, and just remember that at the end of the day, this semester does not define your entire college career.
Finals week may look a little different now, but hopefully these tips will help make it a bit easier.