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The Ultimate Finals Study Guide

The Ultimate Finals Study Guide

By Elodie

For some people, finals are like an cloud of dread looming heavy on the horizon—inevitable and always in sight. For others, they're more like that shady character in an alleyway who jumps you out of nowhere, steals your wallet, and then kicks you in the shins just for fun. But whatever your study persona—whether you're a cloud-of-doom scholar or a hopeless case of this-exam-is-an-alleyway-mugger-I-did-not-see-coming—here are some tips and tricks that can help you maintain your sanity.

For making flashcards...
Flashcards are pretty much the worst thing ever—they take forever to make, and if you drop them outside on a windy day, well, don’t even get me started. But they’re super effective in terms of rote memorization. So if you need to memorize all the treaties of World War II, but you don't actually care about all the treaties of World War II, this is how you force that information into your brain. And since this is 2013, you don't even need actual, tangible notecards. You can put them on your iPhone with one of the many free flashcard apps (iFlash, Flashcards+, etc.), or you can got to StudyBlue and see if your classmates or even your teacher posted study materials.

For quizzing yourself...
It's not always easy getting someone to help you study, particularly if this person is not a classmate or your parent and has no vested interest in your academic achievement. That's where Quizlet comes in. You can create quizzes with multiple-choice questions and play matching games. It's all the fun of taking quizzes without the added dread of sitting in a classroom and knowing the clock is counting down, forcing you to make tough decisions in fits of frantic desperation like you're a character in the Saw movies.

For learning a foreign language...
With websites like LiveMocha, you supplement your foreign language skills and chat with fellow learners as well as native speakers. Unfortunately, some of the content costs money. Busuu, on the other hand, is entirely free. Neither site would probably be your best bet if, like, you mentally checked out for the entire semester and the exam is tomorrow and you don't actually know any Spanish. (If that's your game, try BBC Languages.) But the chatting program is good practice.

For writing essays...
Citing sources is a pain in the butt, because Past You and Present You have completely different priorities. Past You just wanted to get this quote down before your brain imploded; Present You is now wading through a sea of notes trying to find the source. Sites like Zotero and EasyBib understand this, and they are there for you. Zotero is more of a management tool to help you organize this chaotic mess you call a research project, whereas with EasyBib you can just type in the book/journal/whatever and watch as it conjures up the citation for you like a wizard.

For issues of procrastination...
Hey, no judgment. We're all friends here. The truth is the Internet is a seductive monster with all the tricks and tools it needs to steer you away from productivity. What would you rather do, study for a chemistry exam or watch a YouTube video of a man walking a giraffe? Self Control can help with that. You just throw in a list of all the websites that usually distract you, set a time, and get to work. It's a great way to smack procrastination in the face, but it's also mildly traumatizing the first time you try to absentmindedly head on over to Facebook and realize you can't. The tears and dry-heaving will, however, give way to glorious progress, and you'll find yourself getting more done than you ever have before. (You'll also discover exactly how much of a hold tumblr has on your life, but that's a problem for another day.)

WHOA, had we known about Self Control in college, or even, say, YESTERDAY, we would have accomplished SO MUCH MORE. What are your best study tips for finals?

Topics: School, Life
Tags: guides, finals, flashcards, test anxiety, studying, tests, study tips, cramming, how to, final exams, how to study

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About the Author
Elodie

Writer. College student. Good at losing her keys, eating breakfast sandwiches, and holding lifelong grudges. She realizes none of these things will help her survive a zombie apocalypse, and she’s made her peace with that. You can follow her on Twitter @elleohdee, but it’s just going to be a lot of complaining.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.