With finals season approaching, a sense of dread sets in every time I take notes in lecture—how am I supposed to remember all of this information at once? Often the prospect of beginning the study process is so overwhelming that organizing all the information seems almost impossible.
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’ve realized that a lot of my psychology research and coursework have provided many useful tips to make studying as effective and efficient as possible. I have compiled a few here to help you get started and hopefully feel more comfortable diving into studying when reading period comes around.
Around this time last year, I took my first final exams at Princeton. Like many other freshmen, I left exam rooms in disbelief of how hard tests were, especially in some of my more quantitative classes. The time constraints, the amount of material covered, and the insightfulness required to answer questions always make Princeton exams challenging – something that every student learns quickly.
But what I didn’t pick up on was the incredible advantage of having a study group. In high school, exams weren’t as difficult, and consequently, I could get through classes by studying alone. I would sit in my room, take in all the material days before an exam, and feel confident that I knew it. During my first year at Princeton, I tried to emulate this same strategy but would just end up feeling overwhelmed. And for a long time, I couldn’t pinpoint any solutions to my stress.
Inspiration came during office hours last spring, when my friend and I went to pick up our math exams. Our instructor remarked that between us, we solved all of the problems on the test, even though individually we hadn’t performed as well. While walking back to my dorm, I thought about this more. If my friend and I had simply taken the time to study together, we would’ve not only done better on the test, but also thoroughly learned the material.
As final exams and paper deadlines approach, I find myself constantly questioning if I am spending my time efficiently. During exam periods, I often wonder how much time I should spend catching up on readings that I skimmed throughout the semester. It’s hard to finish every reading on time when professors assign hundreds of pages per week — and it’s almost impossible to catch up over reading period. Right now, this issueis particularly salient in my sociology class, which requires a 5-page-essay as a take-home exam. How can I review relevant material effectively and efficiently when I also have three other courses to focus on?