Finals 101: Study Tips From Foothill Students to Help You Survive Finals

On a blissful crisp Friday afternoon, brown leaves whirled around my feet as I stood at Foothill’s library quad. The mystifying colors of the sun shone into the fountain glistening brightly as the breeze bitterly blew over my shoulder, giving me that tingling, welcoming sensation of fall…except it’s not very welcoming because… I have 20 a page paper due Tuesday and three finals the following days. So I entered the library, going up to the quiet section. I noticed someone sitting in front of me watching videos on Youtube, maybe I should do that too, I need inspiration, after all. I swear I was going to type away my essay, but then my tummy started rumbling, reminding me of the gnawing emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I’d just head down to KJ’s really fast, I promised I’d do it as soon as I was done fueling up. While walking back to the library, my phone started buzzing. I should check it later…but what if it’s important? You know what, it’s fine, it’s probably going to take me one minute to answer. Just as I was about to put my phone down and (hopefully) get to work… “The library is closing in…” Oh, that must be a sign! I should just go home and call it a day.

If the scenario above sounds familiar, don’t worry, you are not alone. The truth is, most of us aren’t stellar at time management. Chugging red bulls or a gallon of coffee have easily become a part of our finals week routine. Check out tips from fellow Foothill students as they prepare for finals week. Who knows, some of these tips might work for you too!

Make a to-do list.
Grab a notebook or a piece of paper and jot down your temporary study goals. List all the topics you need to cover in the classes you’re taking. This can also help make sure that you’re not leaving out any topics. Writing out a daily study plan can help you organize and motivate you to not drift away from what you’re supposed to be doing.

Start early.
The morning is an ideal time of day to study. There are less distractions, and you tend to be less tired. However, if night time is your prime time, avoid doing work near the curtains or windows and make sure to turn on bright light! This will trick your body into thinking that it’s still daytime.

“I personally think studying is earlier in the day is better, because I do many calculations. In the night, your brain is kind of tired. Preferably do English at night,” said Nouru Muneza, a Computer Science major.

Avoid studying in your room.
Third-year Mechanical Engineering student, Avegel Aquiono, suggests that you avoid studying in your bedroom. If leaving your house is not an option, try finding a space in your house where you can focus.

“Make sure you don’t study in an area where you have easy access to somewhere comfortable like bed,” said Aquiono.

Aquiono also suggested rewards for successful study sessions, “lock yourself in library until you feel prepared [and] reward yourself with food afterwards.”

If you are looking for extra help in STEM subjects approaching finals, the STEM Center is the place to be. The TLC can help with any tutoring, including essay preparation and revision. For finals week, STEM Center now has extended working hours starting from 7:30 am to 10:00 pm. There are tutors all day!

“STEM Center is my favorite place to study,” Muneza said. “There is a lot of help. Especially for STEM majors, you can get help easily. Oh and there’s free coffee!”

Study alone vs. Study in groups
While studying in groups seems more fun and can be excellent for maintaining motivation or even discussing complex concepts, with finals approaching in three days I would suggest studying alone. You want to make sure to spend time mastering topics you need to work on, and not what you peer thinks you should work on. However, if there are materials that you think are best learn if discussed with your peers, then go ahead and form a study group! You can book a study room at the library, TLC, or STEM Center.

For STEM subjects, focus on doing practice problems.
Practice problems help you focus better on areas you need to work on. They are often times the best way to prepare for an exam.

“Exam questions are most likely similar to the practice problems,” said Adya Putra Indera, a second-year student at Foothill College.

Make sure to balance reading about topics to enhance your understanding and practice answering questions to replicate what will be on the exam.

Study breaks = meals, exercise, errands.
Instead of planning to study and finish all your materials under one sitting, divide it into chunks and have study breaks. If you really want to maximize your time, use your meals and work out time as study breaks.

Speaking from personal experience, second year engineering student, Henry Gunawan states that “while I enjoy disturbing people during study breaks, I want my study breaks to be effective, so making sure I exercise would be pretty good. That way, you can fit more time in your study schedule too.”

Don’t forget other areas in your life.
While some students take pride in not showering for 3 days straight and end up blaming finals for their habit, remember that you have to be healthy, well-fed, well-rested and well, not stinky to survive finals.
“For subjects like Math, if you don’t have enough sleep, you decrease your level of concentration, so make sure you get enough sleep or you’ll end up making silly mistakes,” said Indera.

It’s important for you to be sharp and concentrated on test day especially if you have an early 7:30 am or 8 am class.

Feel free to leave your suggestions and tips for studying in the comment section. Help out your fellow Foothill students! Or let us know which tips worked for you.
Good luck!