Study smarter, not harder.
An important thing to keep in mind throughout finals week is that your professors want you to succeed! If they mention that you should study a certain topic, or go through an example problem in depth during the last day of class, they’re probably trying to let you know it’s on the final! Take your professors’ advice and guidance on what to study to heart; after all, they wrote your exam.
Also, most professors are happy to let students know about the format of the exam. This can be very helpful to guide how you study. Is the exam all multiple choice questions? Practice multiple choice questions from homework assignments and past exams. Is it cumulative? Make sure you review your midterms. Understanding exactly how the exam will test you is the best way to focus your studying the most important concepts.
Work in a group.
Stressed about a certain exam? Your classmates are probably worried, too! One of the best things about having required courses for each college and major is that there are a lot of people in the same course, especially during your first year at Notre Dame. Use this to your advantage! If you don’t have any friends in your class, maybe reach out in your dorm community. Once you have a friend or study group, be collaborative! Work together to make a study guide, talk through practice questions, and ask questions on a topic that someone else better understands.
One of the defining parts of Notre Dame culture is the collaborative, non-competitive attitudes of Notre Dame students. Working together with other smart, driven students is an incredible opportunity to learn from your peers and make new friends in the Notre Dame community. Also, I always feel less overwhelmed when I know that my classmates have the same worries as me!
Make a plan.
Having extra time off can make it easy to procrastinate. It’s easy to say, “I have three days. I’ll start tomorrow!” But, this often leads to cramming the night before the exam. Instead, make a plan to study a little each day, while still giving yourself time to enjoy your days off.
Also, most courses have office hours or review sessions. These can be a great way to set goals for your studying! Set a goal to finish the practice exam before the review session, or come up with three good questions before office hours. This will be an additional incentive not to fall behind! Also, if an exam does not go as well as you had hoped, it is easy to feel defeated. Having a plan to stick to is a great way to make sure you don’t fall behind if you’re feeling discouraged.
Find a new study spot.
During a full semester of classes and extracurriculars, it’s easiest to study places that are close to your dorm or classes. With a little more freedom in your schedule, explore somewhere new! A change of scenery can be refreshing. Check the Student Government's list of study spots for inspiration.
It can be so difficult to push through finals week when Christmas break is so close! However, this is the most important week of the semester in determining your grades. It’s important to stay focused so that your grades reflect all of your hard work in the past four months!
Take breaks from studying to hang out with friends who you won’t see while you’re home over the holidays. Go to mass to take time to reflect and put things into perspective. Maybe even start packing, so you won’t be overwhelmed when your finals are over. Take care of yourself, so you don’t get burnt out halfway through the week!
Good luck to all First Years during their first finals week at Notre Dame! Remember to keep things in perspective...the Notre Dame family values you for so much for than your grades!