May 29, 2022

How to Avoid Cramming for Finals

Most students know (either from personal experience or from having it drilled into them by their professors) that cramming is ineffective. It’s impossible to maintain your focus for hours at a time, making it impossible to retain information through cramming sessions. Even if you’re able to remember enough for the test, you’ll likely forget soon after — which could have an impact on your performance in future classes or even your career. To prevent cramming before your finals, there are several things you need to do.

1. Create a Study Schedule

Start by determining when you’ll study for each of your finals. Block out time in your schedule either every day or a few times a week to study for each class. Avoid figuring out what you’ll do in each block only when you sit down to study by deciding in advance how you’ll use your time.

2. Figure Out When You Focus Best

Whenever possible, schedule time to study when you know you’re able to concentrate best. You may find that this is early in the day or it could be evenings. You may like to start by preparing for the most challenging final or you may prefer to leave it until you’ve warmed up with something easier first.

3. Schedule Plenty of Breaks

On some days, you may have several hours of free time between classes and other commitments. Although it can be tempting to block out the entire time for studying, you need to bear in mind that it’s impossible to concentrate for this long. Figure out how long you’re able to stay focused and never go beyond this. Even short breaks that take you away from your desk can help refresh you.

4. Start Early

The hardest part of studying for finals is getting started. Once you get into the flow of studying, you’ll find it much easier to continue. This may mean just sitting down and completing one small task.

5. Make Studying Your Priority

As your finals approach, studying needs to take precedence. If you’re concerned about having enough time to prepare, miss a club one week, see if you can take time off work, or turn down social invitations — anything to ensure you don’t end up cramming.

6. Attend All Your Classes

Never skip classes to gain more time to study. You’ll lose out on the chance to take notes first hand, which is invaluable when preparing for finals.

7. Review Your Notes

After class, dedicate a few minutes to reviewing your notes. While the material is fresh in your mind is the perfect time to make sure all your notes will make sense later. Plus, reminding yourself of everything you’ve covered in class will help you turn the information into long-term memories.

8. Do a Quick Review the Night Before

You’ll need a good night’s sleep before your finals. Use the evening before for one last quick review of the material but no heavy studying.

It’s common to find that you fall back to old habits, even when you have the best intentions, if you struggle to study at home. This is a major problem when you live in dorms where you’re easily distracted, but it’s less of an issue for students in off-campus housing. You can find apartments near Carleton University at The Revalie. You’ll receive far more than just a room — you’ll have access to onsite amenities, live in a modern suite, and be just a few minutes from campus in one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in Ottawa. Take a virtual tour to look around.

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