Tips for studying for finals

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Nec
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Tips for studying for finals

Postby Nec » Mon Dec 07, 2009 6:39 am UTC

Alright, so, finals have got me sort of freaked out. Its my first semester here at college and I would kind of like to get my GPA off to a decent start. Ive got three exams coming up: Microeconomics, Calc. III, Chemistry

I kinda breezed through high school without studying, but I find that studying in college usually helps with the grade. The hardest subject for me is chemistry. I just cant really get a grasp at it. Followed by econ. I love my math class, so that shouldnt be too bad (if I can somehow understand surface integrals). So, my plea is: any tips for studying for these beasts? Any sort of method that works out for certain types of subjects? [rote memorization, flash cards, etc.]

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Korandder » Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:26 pm UTC

For calculation heavy course such as math, physics, astronomy, chemistry and economics practice the calculations endlessly.
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Vaniver
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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Vaniver » Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:20 pm UTC

Start early. Read through all of your relevant notes; find a problem from the book in each section and work it out. If you run into any trouble (hmm, how do I ...?) write it down and practice that specifically.
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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Fuzzypickles » Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:50 pm UTC

Do all of your exams again. Do all of the practice exams again. From this it should be readily apparent what parts you're lacking in. Go to the book/your notes (whichever is better) and read up on it, then hit practice problems with that until you have that down as well.

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby mochafairy » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:04 pm UTC

What I have found that helps me is reworking every single example done in class without the help of my notes/the book. I do the examples because if I get stuck, I can easily help myself at 3AM, or whenever it is that I'm studying.
I have found that if my professors do examples that aren't in the book, then their examples tend to be more like their test questions.

What works best for you depends on how you learn. If you're a audio-learner, then record and re-listen to lectures. If you have no recordings, then you could record yourself reading the text book (which also would help if you're a visual-learner). If you learn by doing/feeling, then work as many practice problems as you can. Most people are some-what evenly distributed, so try a combination.

Also, many professors/departments have old exams that you can obtain. Try to get ones that your professor helped write, since it is basically pointless to study questions that won't even be asked (at least in the same way) for your final.

Form study groups with people in your class, and take the exam together. Everyone does number 1, compare results, and if you differ, go around and explain how you arrived at your answer. It re-enforces the formulas/information that you know, but gives you the ability to speak it, work it, read it, and listen to it. If you are able to, try and find someone who has taken the class from the same professor as before, and ask about stupid tricks they like to pull (for example, the CS prof I had my freshman year loved to throw us huge code and ask us what it did, while leaving off a semi-colon on line 56, or passing variables in tricky ways, or using some little trick covered in class for 30 seconds).

For things like econ or psychology, which are much less computationally heavy(for econ, it depends on what topics you actually covered), the only thing I could really do was go over old exams, memorize dates/people's names, and basically just re-read large portions of the text book. End of chapter/section summaries and vocab. lists are your friend. Again, try to get a study group going and explain principles/why something is seemingly important.

If your professor/the TA for the course holds a study session, go. I've had professors go over the exam in a study session before or tell you "know this, don't worry about that" or even "here's a useful bit of information that isn't in the text book that you'll need on the exam", because no one shows up. At the very least you'll get a nice review and can ask questions about things you don't understand.
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Nec
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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Nec » Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:38 pm UTC

Alright, thanks guys. I plan on studying Calc with some friends. Just to make sure we are all doing everything correctly. I mostly need to study those surface integrals. Only thing that really kills me at the moment. Luckily, I have saved all my tests and homeworks and such for all my classes, so Im gonna go over those again, as per the suggestions.

Once again, thanks! Hopefully I can scrape by with at least some B's here :P

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby RockoTDF » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:42 am UTC

So I know finals are over, but I'll leave this here in case someone else reads it.

STUDY EARLY!!! The sooner you start studying (I mean reviewing, not coffee-d up all nighter study sessions) the better you will do. You will retain information in a more consistent way, and are more likely to retain it well after the exam and therefore will probably do better in future courses that rely on that material. Review stuff throughout the semester and get more and more intensive as finals approach. Then maybe finals week won't be as stressful, you will sleep well, and your performance will increase.

Go to review sessions - you have your prof or a grad student there to answer anything you want. Just don't tell them "everything" or ask questions that you should know just from reading the text.

I once redid an entire semester of linear algebra homework in the two weeks leading up to the final. Same thing for (most of) calc. Both helped a lot.

I also once redid numerous small CS programs and examples from class leading up to the exam. I did one example from the slides (on my own) that we never covered in class. Lo and behold, he used it on the exam and it was worth 10%. Mathematically speaking, that problem is why I got an A- instead of a B+ in that class.

Recording lectures is good, but do not become to reliant on it. My notes last semester in my neural encoding course were horrible because I discovered the recorder/notebook thing in MS Word and thought I would get to relisten to the lectures. Needless to say that didn't quite work out. Recordings are good for going back to hear things worded exactly how the prof said them or to make sense of some notes you haven't looked at in a month.

Reading your textbooks and taking notes as if it were a lecture (instead of just hi-lighting) is also helpful if there is rote memorization needed to learn. You don't have time to reread everything in the textbook you read in the semester.

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Adacore » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:53 pm UTC

I'll just reiterate a couple of points from the above - study sessions really helped me, working through all the past exams with a group helping each other out when we got stuck was so much more effective (and less boring!) than trying to slug through it all on my own. And yes, review sessions are vital - especially if your lecturers are anything like ours and give hints in the review sessions about what is going to come up in the exams.

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MHD
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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby MHD » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:24 am UTC

The Überman Sleep Schedule.
Google it.

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Quenouille » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:12 am UTC

I don't speak with authority on this, but from what I've heard polyphasic sleep seems like a rather poor advice: the transition is rather brutal and it may take awhile to get adjusted, in the meantime you aren't doing anything productive. Also, if you miss a nap/oversleep, the results may be disastrous on your sleep cycle. In other words, too risky and too low payoff.

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Adacore » Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:11 pm UTC

It also doesn't interface very well with societal requirements. As cool as it is, there are times when you want (or need) to stay awake for more than a few hours.

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Filigree » Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:03 am UTC

There were a few things I did this past semester that really, dramatically improved my performance on tests. Again, the semester's over, but the earlier you start, the better, right?
1) Anything you don't understand, ask for clarification from the instructor right away. It's their job to help you learn, and as many of mine have stated, office hours are boring when no students come in with questions.
2) Take detailed notes during class, then recopy your notes after class. When you study, recopy your notes again. Every time I recopied my notes, I got to process the information one more time, and having a look at the big picture made it much more obvious what was important and what was more supplementary material.
3) Study groups are awesome. I personally didn't have many issues with chemistry, but I went to a study group anyway. The result was that I reinforced what I knew by teaching them about stuff they were confused on, and I learned some valuable information about the test because one of the girls I studied with had notes from a previous year. Everybody wins.
Good luck, everybody, for the upcoming semester (for those of you facing another one)!

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Adacore » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:51 am UTC

jonehaze wrote:Only study short periods of time with no distractions.. Meaning no music, no tv, nothing, just u, books and notes! Your brain can only take in so much at certain period of time.. So study for an hour, take a break, go back to study for 1 or 2 then take break.. Do this for a week!

Heh - now that's almost the exact opposite of what I found worked for me. Studying for the entire day with the right sort of distractions (something that isn't too distracting!) worked far better than just sitting down and plugging through stuff for an hour or two. I guess it's the same principle, but I found if I could flit between (for example) doing past papers, chatting to my friends, helping my friends with their studying and playing random online flash games it worked really well :D

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby kendricktamis » Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:53 am UTC

I have my exam due in couple of weeks from now. Kindly give me some valuable suggestion, tips etc. Like which is the best time to study, how to keep awake in the night(tea or coffee), how to have a better concentration without breaks. Somewhere I read someone telling to keep cold water.

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Two-Fry » Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:29 pm UTC

kendricktamis wrote:I have my exam due in couple of weeks from now. Kindly give me some valuable suggestion, tips etc. Like which is the best time to study, how to keep awake in the night(tea or coffee), how to have a better concentration without breaks. Somewhere I read someone telling to keep cold water.

You're doing it wrong. You should not try to study without breaks. I'm terrible at concentrating for long periods but learn very quickly when I do concentrate, so I normally go for 15 minutes of studying followed by a 5-10 minute break. Your mileage may vary, but I think that most people should not try to study without any breaks. Just go take a walk, get some food, play a game, do something. As long as you keep it short, you'll be able to study much more effectively and study without losing your sanity. As for the best time to study, I'd say that around a week before your exam, you should just get a small notebook, go over your notes and copy down the most important/most likely to be on the exam points. Then you can look over them whenever you have a few minutes to kill. For staying awake at night, I'd have to say the best strategy is to not do it. Just plan ahead, and get all your studying in ahead of time. If you need to do a last minute review, wake up early and do it right before the exam so that you will be awake when it comes time to take it and the information will be fresh in your brain. If you really need to study into the night, use as little caffeine as possible, try splashing cold water on your face and listening to loud music first.

tl;dr
study often for short amounts of time, don't drive yourself insane with 5 hour study sessions or with sleep deprivation
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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby achan1058 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:41 pm UTC

kendricktamis wrote:I have my exam due in couple of weeks from now. Kindly give me some valuable suggestion, tips etc. Like which is the best time to study, how to keep awake in the night(tea or coffee), how to have a better concentration without breaks. Somewhere I read someone telling to keep cold water.
Take more breaks, get enough sleep. That's all I can really say.

When you are tired, your brain would not function as well, and things which you are trying to remember will simply go out of the window. Basically, your efficiency goes down. So you might be putting more hours in on paper, you are getting less done. And don't ever, ever stay up the night before the exam. It hurts, a lot. (I have had that happen the night before a contest, because I was too nervous. Needless to say, my efficiency went to hell during the contest.)

Anyways, if it is for math, computing, or physics, I tend to make a cheat sheet, even if I am not allowed to bring one in. Summarizing your notes allows you to know what is really important, and what is not so important, and reduces the amount of stuff you need to memorize. After that, it's pretty much practice old exam questions and what nots.

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby blue_eyedspacemonkey » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:15 pm UTC

If you're doing an exam that doesn't focus so much on calculations, reduce the salient points of your notes to bullet points. I try to put information in table form when possible/appropriate, as I find these useful to quickly get stuff down in exams, and easier to remember than a paragraph of text.
Get plenty of sleep, eat right, don't live off caffeine-but that should be happening all year round, really.
Past exam papers are good for practice. Maybe try to organise revision sessions with ohters in the class. The only issue I've had with that is some people used it as a 'catch up over coffee' rather than a 'lets get revision done'. Which was rather annoying, as I find talking things through with people is really good for my memory and understanding.
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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby TheAmazingRando » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:47 pm UTC

Go for understanding, not rote memorization. If it's math, don't just memorize the different equations, understand why they work and how they relate to one another (they're usually derived from each other or based on the same principle, and the book usually will explain this). That way it stops being a sequence of symbols that you need to keep track of, and becomes an idea represented by symbols, which is a lot easier to remember. It's the difference between memorizing a complete sentence in another language and actually learning what the individual words mean and why they go together the way they do. And if you do forget part of it, it's a lot more likely that you'll figure it out, because you can reason through it instead of wracking your brain for a pattern that means nothing to you.

Don't stay up late studying. Don't pull all-nighters or marathon study sections. If you're exhausted, stop studying. Resting after studying will help your brain process and retain information, and will make remembering it a lot more effortless. If you've been paying attention all quarter, you should never need to pull an all-nighter the night before. The most important thing on any exam is mental alertness and clarity, getting insufficient sleep beforehand will shoot this to hell. This is especially true if the test is more problem-solving, less information recall.

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby Nec » Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:29 am UTC

A late post here, but Calc III and Chem went pretty well. Pulled off an A in Calc and a B+ in Chem. Lets not talk about Econ.

As for studying, what Ive learned throughout the year thanks to physics exams: do not cram and get sleep. It works very well. I did some studying a day or two before the exam, got some sleep the day of (exams at night) and then rocked it. So thats what Im doing this time around for finals. Studying mixed in with some fun and plenty of sleep. It really works for the math and sciences. As for other classes (sociology this semester), I figure just going over notes from class will work.

Sidenote: Its a great class (I recommend everyone take an intro to sociology class, regardless of major)

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Re: Tips for studying for finals

Postby modularblues » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:57 am UTC

This might be obvious, but never look at the answer key until after you're done with practice exams. I got screwed over by this temptation many times.


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