With the holiday season in full swing and chillier weather creeping upon us comes the most dreaded season of all for college students: finals. Although we have all experienced a slow return to exams, this process has shifted quite a bit with the introduction of online exams and many “open-note” opportunities. 

But no matter what differences have arisen in the test-taking process for this generation, studying and proper preparation are still intrinsic to a successful collegiate academic experience. Thus, I am here to remind you just what you need to do in order to ace your exams, no matter what the course is or what platform they may be offered on!

One of the best methods that I have found for studying, especially for subjects that entail lots of process memorization, is to create a reference sheet. I have taken many exams in which these types of resources are permitted, but often find myself without time to truly find the necessary information within them when I am pressed for time. 

However, the actual process of creating these papers proves to be just as useful as the reference sheet itself! By reviewing your notes and organizing them in an aesthetically pleasing and neat fashion, you are allowing your brain to relearn the information, all while creating a useful space to refer back to. I usually type these sheets, and through the use of various fonts and different colors of highlighting, I am able to mentally refer back to these documents, remembering where I stored each category of information. Even still, handwritten notes are just as helpful if you can bear the quick appearing cramps. Though it may seem like a waste of time, creating reference sheets is one of the best ways that I have found to organize my thoughts and continuously prepare for exams!

Another simple yet effective method of studying is to use flashcards! These work incredibly well for any test in which you have to memorize terms and short concepts, as they are a fast-paced way to check your knowledge again and again. I am a fan of using Quizlet, as I find myself more willing to use flashcards when I can access them from my phone or computer. Old fashioned index cards get the job done just as well, and might even be more beneficial because you are writing it down! This form of studying allows for a more collaborative way of learning, as multiple people can be reviewing the flashcards simultaneously, and even simply hearing the facts being learned makes studying feel more approachable. Though some may be quick to dismiss the use of flashcards because of their redundant nature, they truly are useful and can make studying feel like a fun memorization game as opposed to a tedious task!

Although this may not be a true method of studying, attending your professor’s office hours is a great way to begin honing in on the information that you simply must review for an upcoming exam. Not only are you able to work with your professor in a more directly interactive setting, but you are also able to establish a solid connection with them, which may prove useful in the future for flexibility on other assignments and due dates. 

Professors obviously serve as the most abundant fountains of wisdom, as they both teach the content of the class and create the exams, meaning they are the ideal sources of support when beginning the journey of preparing for an exam. Do not be afraid to ask questions and convey your desire to fully understand the subject, as this will encourage them to dedicate more time to help you study. Most professors, especially here at Fairfield, simply want to see their students excel: set a foundation for a good relationship with them, and you will feel much more confident in your abilities!

Though finals are certainly far from easy to prepare for without feelings of stress and anxiety arising, it is important to remember that these assessments ultimately do not define the rest of your life, or even your college career. 

When studying, be sure to take time for yourself, practice self-care and spend time with friends to alleviate general feelings of worry. I have full faith that my Stag peers will perform amazingly during their exams, no matter the subject or form of assessment. Study hard, stay confident and remember to utilize these helpful tips!

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