When it comes time to study for final exams, a little good advice will go a long way.
I’ll never forget a conversation I heard two students having in a Starbucks. It went something like this:
Student 1: “I’m so worried about this test tomorrow. I have never had to study for final exams. I’m not even sure how to do that.”
Student 2: “What are you going to do?”
Student 1: “Eh, probably just read the book again.”
My Response: “NO!!!! Don’t do it!”
Actually, I just sat there quietly. That would be extremely weird if I were to yell that out in the middle of a Starbucks. But I thought it.
Re-reading your textbook has to be one of the least effective ways to study for a final exam. It’s not helpful at all. Apart from cramming for an exam, it’s about the worst approach to study skills available.
Now, I’m not trying to offend you if that’s your typical strategy. That’s OK if so. But let’s move forward in a different direction from now on — a more helpful direction.
So, are textbooks good at all to study for final exams?
Sure. They can be helpful if you find deficiencies in your notes or other study materials. Going back to the most reliable source of facts can be beneficial.
But don’t re-read your textbook. Studying is not the same as re-reading. Studying requires work. Re-reading tends to become passive.
Here’s your tip: if you need to study for finals don’t re-read a textbook.
It’s super ineffective (usually). So what do you do instead? Try some of these active strategies to help you study for final exams more effectively:
1. Quiz yourself with flashcards
If you never quiz yourself before the test, you shouldn’t expect to do really well on it.
2. Make a study guide
This study strategy is super helpful — it’s usually what we encourage students to try first.
3. Discuss the material with your study group
This is another active strategy that is far more effective than re-reading your textbook.
4. Try an app like Quizlet
Similar to a strategy you’d use with flashcards — but cooler because it’s on your phone (ok, I made that part up. Both are equally cool).
5. Compile and summarize your notes
Summaries work great for some students. Consider giving it a try.
Want more info on studying for finals? Check out StudyRight’s newest e-book, “The Essential Student Handbook to Studying for Finals” here.