Many people view Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial beginning of Summer. For high school students, however, there is a lot of work to get done in the weeks been Memorial Day and the final day of the school year. Most specifically, final exams. Preparing and studying for final exams can be difficult during this time of year. The weather is finally pleasant and teenagers’ minds are drifting to thoughts of summer vacation. It’s easy to fall into the trap of letting schoolwork slide as classes end. Final exams constitute a large portion of the semester grade and it’s vital that students push through and focus on the task as hand before they jump ahead to dreaming of summer days.
The hardest part is getting started. Procrastination happens to many of us because the work ahead can feel so daunting. In this case, a lot of pressure can come with final exams. Taking as many as six crucial tests in less than a week doesn’t happen too often. Some students’ minds can lock down and they convince themselves that they’re better off not dealing with the pressure. This leads to delaying and pushing aside study time. Other students are used to procrastinating studying for normal exams that they don’t feel there is any reason to change tactics for this unique set of circumstances. They would be wrong. Eventually time runs out and the human mind can only take is so much new information as the very last minute. Here are some helpful tips on how to best avoid procrastination:
- Focus on Smaller Goals. Don’t worry about all your exams at once. Instead, constantly break goals into smaller parts. Example: Choose to study for Math. Then choose a chapter. Then choose a specific set of questions. Complete those questions and realize that it wasn’t that hard. Repeat…
- Schedule a Study Group. Supporting one another is helpful. If you’re planning to study with a partner or a group, you’re more likely to keep the commitment than blocking time by yourself.
- Rewards: Set benchmarks for yourself before doing anything for personal enjoyment. Tell yourself you can’t watch a TV show/movie before completing something. Or you can’t go out with friends until you’ve put in study time. It’s helpful for parents to be involved with this reward process. As stated earlier, the more people who are aware that study time is needed the better.
- Smart Phone: Schedule time and set alarms on smart phone. Also use any apps that will help with studying. We refer to our phones as “Smart” but rarely do they earn that term. Let it be a positive tool instead of a negative one by keeping you on track.
Studying becomes harder and procrastination easier if a student isn’t in the appropriate learning environment. Many students come from households that have a lot going on and become easily distracted while trying to study. Siblings running around or the TV on are just a couple common distractions. The best setting to study is someplace quiet.
- Library: We’ve discussed libraries in the past. This is the perfect place to do longform studying. It has all the resources including Study Rooms perfect for study groups. Plus, libraries encourage studious behavior and seeing other people working quietly will help you do the same.
- School: Schools are open after classes end. Some teachers remain in their classrooms and would be welcome to having students study quietly before they leave for the day. Studying with a teacher in the room also incentivizes student to stay on task.
- Home: Communicate with family members ahead of time on when you would like to block out to study. If everyone is on the same page on when it should be quiet then this will prevent any arguments regarding noise and distractions. You should also be working at a desk and not sitting on a couch or bed looking at notes.
The whole point of avoiding procrastination is so study time can be appropriated realistically and effectively. Studying in two-hour blocks at a time is much more effective than one big eight-hour block. Breaks are essential and the more days spent studying the better.
- Hours Needed. Prior to studying, determine how many hours are necessary to study for each subject/class. Give a range of hours since this is really an estimate. Add up all the time and try to do some reasonable allocation of time. This is more of an exercise. It doesn’t have to be set in stone but it’s a good starting place how to schedule time.
- Increments: Small goals remember? Some people can’t study for an hour straight without a break. Maybe do 15 minutes of studying and then a 5-minute break. Every hour will be 45 minutes of studying and 15 minutes break.
- Ideal Time. Some people study better in the morning and others late at night. Don’t plan to study until midnight if that’s your usual bed time. Also, be mindful of meals and snacks. Healthy nutrition is key to effective study behavior.
These are just a small sample of useful study tactics. These strategies can also be used for other exams and assignments as well. Furthermore, no student is the same and what works for some might not work for others. For more questions on how best to study, ask one of our tutors and the Ally Learning Center.