UT Experts Offer Tips for Positive Exam Outcomes

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‘Tis the season for finals: the time of the semester when many students start staying up late and cramming months’ worth of material into a few days.

The final exam or paper can certainly be intimidating, and many students find themselves overwhelmed as they hurriedly try to squeeze all that important information into their already exhausted brains.

The Student Success Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, which provides the support students need to be successful at UT, recommends a few ways to stay focused and prepare for finals.

• Budget your time. Make sure you have sufficient time to study so that you are well prepared. For each subject, strive to study one to two hours a day for roughly a week before the exam if possible.

• Review ALL material. Review practice tests, sample problems, textbooks, class notes, etc. Take advantage of any study sessions, study materials, etc., provided by your instructors or other resources. Remember to review your course syllabi for information about final exams, papers and projects.

• Study actively. Don’t just read over the material; do something with it, and activate multiple senses. For instance, you might make flash cards and review frequently, or you might create mock test questions for yourself and/or study partners. This makes it easier to retain the key concepts. Utilize study groups and Supplemental Instruction (SI).

• Know what to expect. Use whatever information your instructor provides about the exam to study as specifically as possible, and consult your instructor to determine how best to prepare for the exam.

• Arrive early. Give yourself five or 10 minutes before the exam to relax and prepare. Avoid talking to other students, however; stress can be catching.

While these tips will help you do your best on exams, Student Success Center experts say it is normal — and healthy — to feel some anxiety. Being concerned can help you do your best on a test, especially those who work better under tight deadlines; just keep a positive attitude and don’t panic. The Student Success Center website features additional study tips and resources.

One of the most important and often overlooked things to remember during finals is to take care of your body.

Rosa Thomas, a wellness expert at Student Health Services, says you can lessen stress with a few simple activities to help break up your studying.

“It’s okay to take small breaks. If you’ve budgeted your time properly, you should have some time to step away from the books. Go out in the sun for a little while to soak up Vitamin D—even if you’re just walking to the dining hall for lunch—or visit TRECs to get some exercise,” Thomas said. “Though studying can be stressful, try to remember to smile. Talk to friends who make you laugh or watch a funny movie to rest your mind.”

Thomas also said it is important to practice good hygiene, have a good diet of fruits and vegetables, and get plenty of rest during finals instead of eating junk food and opting not to sleep until exams are over.

Following these simple tips can help you finish the semester on a healthy, happy, high note.

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