How to Go Through Finals Without Losing Your Mind

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, – nope, it’s not about Christmas. It’s about those rough weeks of your studying when you need to prepare for finals.

If you are from the procrastination club and have a big chance of relaxing until the exam weeks start, or ends, this article is for you.

If you are already stressing and getting ready to roll up your sleeves and get to studying, this article is also for you.

Have you noticed how graciously some of the other students survive these painstaking days? It’s about the time to regain your faith in your own fortune. We will reveal the secrets of those “lucky ones” and uncover the number of things they do just right.

Find out how to prepare for finals, stay calm, and retain your sanity.

Stop studying. Seriously. Now

Psychological Science Association gives a solid proof of it. There’s no point of having a massive all-nighter because it will give you nothing but exhaustion. Scientists at NYU also prove that the information learned at irregular hours gets irretrievably lost, along with your sleeping hours.

Our flawed human mind remembers information that has been learned first and last. All that has been sandwiched in between somehow gets leaked out.  

Big things in small packages

Divide all information you need to cover into three parts, on the basis of how difficult and in-depth it is.

At first cover only essentials. If you have like 9 days, learn all the questions enough for the C grade in the first three days.

The second three days spend on pulling your mark to the solid B. Finally, the last three days grind everything to the A and get rid of annoying “hurry up anxiety”.

Cut the cake into three pieces. Eat in three runs

Divide all material into three equal informational chunks, and set a time frame for studying. It is better to group questions by topic so it’s easier to remember and form a holistic picture of what you study.

Remember to plan out the breaks. You should give a rest to your mind not periodically, but systematically.

For example, 30 minutes of reading should be followed by the 15 minutes of rest and that doesn’t mean browsing the Internet. Try walking, cycling or prancing around but strictly within a 15-minute time frame.

Sit on two chairs at the same time

This one is a combination of abovementioned, no actual chairs involved. Divide the material into three informational chunks, again. This time you will be questioning yourself in the last round, while the previous two ones will include actual learning.

If the plan is outlined, then basically half of the studying is done. When you learned the material, it’s time to test your knowledge and strengthen the retention of information.

Prepare the flashcards and work in pair with a friend, try to explain the material to your friend. Don’t a friend nearby? The cat or dog will do, too. This last part will help you to find the gaps in your knowledge. Don’t forget about those dancing breaks.

Write a fairytale  

Scientists have proved that fantasy is the key element that helps to memorize the most incomprehensible material. If the small details seem to make a little chaos in your head and refuse to settle down, create a fairy tale, a story, that will join them and make them look meaningful.

Oakland University professor and the author of the “Learning how to learn” course on Coursera Dr. Barbara Oakley provided a vivid example in the course about it.  

For instance, you need to memorize the shopping list of: bread, eggs, milk.

Imagine you are walking to the market, you accidentally step on the bread on the sidewalk, and it crunches under your feet. Yuck! You go further and oversee the nest with a bird on the eggs, sitting on top of the fountain with milk instead of water. Sounds psychedelic but it works!

Play the detective

If you are a smart cookie, this one is the best way to study for finals. While learning the new material, you need to identify the underlying patterns, similar schemes or visual concepts to the other ones you know from before. It’s like making metaphors.

Metamia science analogy mentions plenty of such, for instance:

“A complex carbohydrate structure – a string of pearls. Complex carbohydrates are polymers of sugars and digested faster than glucose. Glucose is a single giant pearl and complex carbohydrate is like a string of small ones.”

“The crystal structure is like a frozen image of the enzyme, it doesn’t explain how it operates, the same way how it’s hard to get how King Charles II was a successful womanizer looking at his formal portraits.”

Instead of conclusion

Before you barricade yourself in the library and bury your head under the pile of dusty books studying for finals, remember about science. The science tells us, – the balance is the key to pass the finals. Well, maybe it doesn’t but all genius is simple as Albert Einstein said.

Preparing for finals doesn’t have to be hard. Sometimes it’s enough to make your eyes go over your own notes, organize and prioritize the studying and here you go, – total recall and retention.