Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to College Finals

Hello, beautiful! In case it hasn't hit your dashboard yet, here's my fave Game of Thrones meme to break the bad news...

Source: Pinterest

Finals are coming! If you're anything like me, you might be feeling a little bit like Jon Snow right know: aka like you "know nothing." But ready or not, finals are on their way, and we have to face them head on. So, what's the best way to prepare for this challenge?

In my opinion, there's no "one-size-fits-all" approach that works for everyone when it comes to studying for finals - that's where some college bloggers go wrong. As much as I wish my study advice was helpful to everyone, the truth is my favorite study techniques might not work perfectly for you.

So, instead of force my study wisdom upon you, my goal for this post is to expose you to a range of study techniques I've learned about throughout the years - whether I use them personally or not. If you're a visual learner, need to write things down or love to listen, there's something for you in this post regardless. 

If you're not sure of your learning style, I'll be including helpful ways to how to tell if a particular technique might work for you! Plus, as an added bonus, I'll also be sharing my ultimate packing list of library essentials for a long day of studying in the lib.

Y'all better brace yourselves...'cause the ultimate guide to studying for finals is coming!

Library Essentials

The right atmosphere is key to studying productively. When my study space isn't exactly right, I can never focus long enough to actually get sh*t done. That's why I opt to study in a library or study room instead of my dorm: theoretically, I could just sit in bed with my textbooks, but the mood just wouldn't optimize my productivity. However, when I head to the library for a long night's study sesh, it's equally important that I prepare for all possible scenarios - because having to rush out to grab a sandwich or a pair of headphones in the middle of reviewing an important concept can be pretty disruptive (not that I've ever done that...). So, here's the ultimate packing list for studying in the library, so you too can be ready for anything. 

Library Essentials

Textbooks and notes

Um, duh. You are going to the library to study, after all - so don't forget your study materials!

Laptop and charger

Most papers and assignments are online nowadays, so it shouldn't surprise you that you're going to need your laptop. But more importantly, don't forget your charger! Having to leave your coveted spot in the crowded lib because you're stuck on 10% is not the way you want to start off finals.

Phone charger

Same goes for your phone charger: don't forget it! As much as your phone can hurt you when you're studying, it can also be your friend. For example, I love the app Tide for timing study times and breaks with relaxing background music.


Some people have strong opinions on highlighting - some people think it doesn't help you learn; personally, I swear by it! Regardless of which type of student you are, keeping a highlighter on hand for drawing attention to key concepts or challenging terms can really amp up your studying game. 

Colorful pens

I love to study by making colorful hand-drawn study guides. I find writing things down helps me remember things easier. So, if you're a big handwritten note-taker, you'll definitely want to invest in some colorful pens for those late-night study sessions in the lib.


Without my planner, life feels aimless. Even during finals week, when I'm not attending classes as usual, planning out my study schedule beforehand helps to keep me on track. Plus, I love my planner because it has a space for writing my to-do list in the margins.

Graphing calculator 

(STEM majors)

If you're not in a science or math class (I, for example, will be officially done with STEM at the end of this semester!), you don't really need this; however, for STEM majors or people with STEM requirements, a graphing calculator is key to hacking your exams.

Headphones (+ an incredible playlist!)

Trust me, I've been the girl who grabs an extra pair of crappy headphones at the convenience store - and you do NOT want to be her. Even more importantly, however, you'll need a bangin' playlist to encourage you to be productive! Check out this mix from the Blonde Chiffon for some library inspiration :) 

Healthy food

During finals week, it can be tempting to succumb to the pressure of sweet and salty snacks from the convenience store - but don't succumb! Make sure that even though you're studying, you're still eating regular meals and nourishing yourself with the vitamins and minerals your brain needs to stay focused and learn well.

Bottled water (or Gatorade)

The other day, my doctor surprised me by actually advising me to drink more Gatorade! Don't get me wrong, I'm a water girl through and through - but even though I always learned those sugary drinks are "bad" for you, my doctor says most college students aren't getting enough electrolytes. So, reach for that water while you're studying - but don't be afraid to mix a Gatorade (or Powerade, if you're one of THOSE people) into the mix.

Coffee or black tea

As every college girl knows, caffeine is key! As much as I love coffee, it's a little too much for me. If you're sensitive to caffeine (like I am - holla!), TRY BLACK TEA! It's got just enough to perk you up, but not enough to give you the jitters.

Cozy sweater or blanket

Because God only knows the library is never as warm as any other room on campus (or the outdoors, if you're lucky enough to live somewhere that gets warm by early May). 

Slip-on shoes

Confession: I'm that girl who wears slippers to the library just to take them off under the table. It's a lifestyle I wholly recommend for comfier (and therefore more productive) study sessions. 10 out of 10 recommend.

Study Techniques

Now that you're settled into your favorite spot in the library with your coziest sweater and a plethora of healthy snacks, you're ready to start getting down to business. But how do you know which study technique is right for you? Depending on the type of class, the format of the exam and what kind of learner you are, the way you study might differ from the way your best friend studies or your professor suggests. Regardless, there's many different study techniques you might want to try to ensure the best results come exam day. After careful research, here are just a few of my favorites - and how to tell if they might work for you!

Source: Tumblr

Rewriting your notes

Might work for you if... you write everything down or else you'll forget it.

If you're a writer by nature, rewriting your paper notes - rather than typing them up on a laptop - might be the best way to help you study. Use colorful pens to make the experience more creative and fun! 

Making flashcards

Might work for you if... you think in pictures instead of words.

Visual learners might benefit from making flashcards more than others. Customize your flashcards by adding creative doodles to help you visualize the concepts you're trying to master.

Repeating confusing terms

Might work for you if... you know all the words to your favorite songs by heart.

Memorization works better for some people than others. If getting something stuck in your head is the best way to help you learn it, then try writing down or repeating out loud confusing vocab terms or definitions over... and over... and over again until they finally stick!

Creating a visual dictionary

Might work for you if... you draw all over your notes in class.

If you're artistic and need a combination of words and pictures, creating a visual dictionary might work for you. This technique is especially helpful for language classes, where you can illustrate the foreign word you're trying to remember.

Printing out your notes

Might work for you if... you'd prefer an old-fashioned paperback to a Kindle, any day.

College professors are digitizing everything these days - which can be a detriment to your grades if you're more of a pen-and-paper kind of gal. So, next time you're faced with a 50-slide PowerPoint and feel your eyes glazing over, try printing it out instead! You might just find yourself focusing better and retaining more of the lecture material.

Re-reading the textbook

Might work for you if... you remember every book you've ever read. 

Reading serves some people's memory well; others, not so much. If you're more the former than the latter, try re-reading your textbook as a valuable study technique. Otherwise, don't waste your time consuming tons of material when you could be studying more effectively!

Taking practice tests

Might work for you if... you'll practice the same thing over and over again until you get it right.

A perfectionist with a lot of drive might benefit from taking practice tests, since it allows you to easily see and correct your mistakes prior to the big exam. Practice tests for nearly every subject can easily be found online - or, you can make your own using my personal favorite study site, Quizlet.

Creating a study guide

Might work for you if... you're always the man with the plan.

Winging it just doesn't work for you - and that's okay! Making a study guide provides you with a well-organized plan so you'll always feel certain of what concepts to study and when.

Watching videos and listening to podcasts

Might work for you if... you're a great listener who loves a good binge-watch.

If you're AV-savvy and get easily sucked into YouTube, finding interesting podcasts and videos on your class material might be a great way to review. In case you're not already familiar with it, the Crash Course YouTube channel is a godsend for just about every topic you could possibly need to study.

Study in a group

Might work for you if... you're motivated by other productive people.

Some people, like me, get together with their friends and get absolutely nothing done - others are inspired by their friends' productivity and use it to fuel their fire! If the latter sounds like you, then a group study session might be the best way to prepare for your finals. Just prepare for a lot of memes, giggling and study breaks ahead of time :) 

What's your best study tip for finals? LMK in the comments below or @haleymarieblog on social media!