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Five Tips for Finishing the Semester Strong

by Maria Minsker | Cornell University

F Posted in: College P Posted on: April 25, 2012
Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 10.58.38 PM Image courtesy of Flickr, MC Quinn

As the semester wraps up, it’s understandable to feel like you’re just running out of steam. But with only a few weeks left for most colleges, it’s important to make one last major effort to finish off the semester and take home some stellar grades. Here are a few tips to help you get motivated, ace those finals and move into summer mode.

1. Don’t give up on going to class

As annoying as that morning lecture might be, it’s important to go during these last few weeks, even if you haven’t attended in a while. Professors tend to use the end of the semester to review and go over material from the entire course, so going to class will not only help refresh some concepts that have gotten buried in your mind, but might also cut down on studying time later.

Chances are your professor has already started planning your final exam and might drop hints and clues about questions that will pop up, so it’s in your best interest to go to class.

2. Go to office hours

Remember that question on the midterm you got wrong? Or that homework assignment that you just didn’t understand? Now is the perfect time to go to your professor’s office hours and talk to him or her about anything that you had difficulty with throughout the course. Your professor will help clarify any confusion that you may be experiencing, plus, you’ll make an impression on him or her right before grades are due.

This is especially helpful for big lecture classes, where professors likely don’t know your name. If you’re on the cusp of a better grade, being able to match your name to a face may make the difference between a B+ and an A-.

3. Plan your finals study schedule

Whether you have two finals in one day or your exams are more evenly spaced out, it’s important to plan your study schedule in advance so that you have an adequate amount of time to devote to each subject. Is one subject more challenging to you than another? You might want to get a head start on studying for that final, and leave your easier subjects until later.

It might also be helpful to divide your work by chapters or sections so studying doesn’t seem so daunting. If you need to review 30 chapters and have 10 days to study, it’ll seem a lot less depressing when you plan to study three chapters per day for 10 days than if you wait until the last minute and study 15 chapters each day for two days. Though it’s the same total amount of text, giving yourself more time to process all the information will also help you get a better a grade.

4. Reward yourself for studying hard

The end of the semester is typically a rough, stressful time, so make sure to give yourself time for a break. If your school has a designated study period before exams begin, try to take a day before exams start to just relax and let loose. It’s probably not a great idea to party hard the day before a test, but stepping away from the books for a bit is important for your mental health.

You might think you can cram an endless amount of information into your brain, but that’s just not the case. Our brains function best when they’re rested, so make sure you get enough sleep, especially before big exams. As for after the exams, well, you know what to do.

5. Sell or trade in your books, and organize the past semester’s notes

The day that big exam is over, you probably can’t wait to dump that fat textbook into the trash, but don’t! Make some money off your misery, and sell the book. Check with your campus textbook store for a buyback quote, and then compare it with other book selling resources, like Amazon, Cash4books or eCampus. These websites typically offer free shipping, so don’t be too quick to assume you’ll get a better rate at a local store.

Also, take the time to go through all your notes from the past semester to file away things you need and throw out what you don’t. Empty your folders and binders, and save them for next semester. You’ll be surprised how much you save on supplies next year!

Maria Minsker Maria Minsker Maria Minsker is a junior English and communication double major at Cornell University. She is an aspiring journalist who loves to travel, try foreign cuisines and watch reruns of old sitcoms.

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