It’s hard to believe the semester is almost over! Great job with all of your hard work so far this semester! It’s important to take a step back and acknowledge the work you’ve done and the successes (big and small) that you’ve had this fall. The LSC is here to help you think through the steps that will work for you. Read on for resources, videos, and the top 10 tips from study skills experts and LSC tutors to help you finish the semester strong. Or check out some of our end-of-semster workshops and drop-in sessions here.
Manage your time (and stress!)
Use the last few weeks of classes to catch up and keep up with your course work. Because you won’t have classes during finals, time management will be very important, including creating structure for yourself and balancing time for sleep, rest, and good nutrition. Finals can be stressful and you’ll need to be kind to yourself and take care of yourself – this is a major part of preparing for any exam. Find tips and strategies for managing stress here.
Create a “Homestretch Calendar” and develop a study plan
Plan out the last few weeks of the semester with a “home-stretch calendar” (Word or PDF). Calendars are an important tool for getting yourself organized and identifying and keeping on top of your crunch times. They can also keep you focused. What should you put on your “home stretch” calendar?
- important events
- prelim & final exams dates
- due dates of papers & other assignments
- meetings and other events
Many students also use a weekly planner to map out their schedule and find hidden time (and block time for things like eating, hanging out with friends, and working on specific courses/projects). For a Word version of the weekly calendar, click here. What should you put on your weekly planner?
- Things you need to do to survive! Eat, sleep, and exercise, etc.
- Things you like to do to take a break! Walk, hang out with friends, talk to family, etc.
- Study time for your various finals. You may want to check out the Guidelines for Creating a Study Schedule to make your study more efficient and the Five Day Study Plan to plan when and how to study for exams.
- Work time for your end-of-semester work (all those papers and projects you have to work on!).
You need to actually block time in your day for the above activities and stick to it — be focused (ie no phone!). Sometimes it helps to create a list and prioritize things you need to do — this is really important when you don’t have enough time and something needs to move off the calendar (sleep is not something that should move off your calendar!).
Cornell students can self-enroll in our Canvas module on Studying for and Taking Exams for a complete step-by-step guide on what works, what doesn’t, how to develop a study plan, and strategies for taking exams. Click on the link here to self-enroll in the module. Learn about effective study strategies, concept mapping, and how to tackle different types of exam questions.
Having a hard time getting started? That’s ok, procrastination happens to all of us, and when you understand it more you’ll have the tools to overcome it. Find out out how to break the cycle here.
Check out our videos on time management, the perils of multitasking, learning from online lectures and discussions, and being flexible. Find our YouTube channel here.
Tips from the LSC tutors on accessing stamina and finishing strong!
1. Develop a study plan that takes into account all of your classes’ needs. Work a little bit on multiple classes each day, staring before your exams. Going back and forth between more than one class can help avoid burnout.
2. Pace yourself. Start early and space out your studying over time. Plan for breaks and give yourself time to deal with unexpected issues that may arise.
3. What time of day is best for you for learning? Is it the same for all of your classes? What about the setting (library, café, with or without people)? Learn what works for you, and plan accordingly.
4. Set up a basic time structure for the exam period – make a simple plan – e.g., sleep, meals, exercise – so it feels more like a workday.
5. Work with friends for company and motivation during study period and finals.
7. Prioritize your health. Getting fresh air, eating healthy, getting sleep helps you study better and learn more effectively. Block this time into your study plan. Quantity in terms of “hours studying” is not a good metric, because the quality of your learning goes down if you’re not well-rested.
8. Self-test, self-test, self-test! Do practice problems and get answers on your own. Write about topics and concepts and draw pictures and diagrams from memory. Try to be active – instead of just reading things over and over.
9. Take practice tests at the same time you’re going to be taking the test.
10. Have one fun thing planned each day. (Tutor suggestions: climbing wall, Trader Joe’s run, baking, Dairy Bar, pet a dog, walk in Botanic Gardens.)
Bonus suggestion from the LSC tutors, especially if you’re feeling a little burned out: Keep the big picture in mind —what’s your “why?” Staying in touch with big-picture goals helps develop resilience.
Keep up the hard work–you got this!