Making Finals Week a Competitive Advantage

Two weeks a year. They can be the difference between success and failure in college.

Twice a year, for one week at the end of each semester, you have to opportunity to make a dramatic impact on your G.P.A. Unfortunately, all too often, the “impact” is in the wrong direction and an entire semester of hard work suddenly seems like a tremendous waste of time.

It doesn’t have to work that way. While others are “crashing and burning” around you, you can make finals week an experience that can take you up to the next level in your pursuit of scholastic stardom. Here’s how.

First, think about finals week as finals weeks. It’s a two week process that starts the Monday before you take your first test. On that Monday, you’ll need to figure out how much and when you’ll need to study for each test. Plan on at 15 hours per test, and possibly up to 25 depending on a number of factors, including how tough the class is, whether or not the exam is cumulative, and how well organized your study information is from earlier in the semester.

Make an hour by hour daily schedule for the two week period that includes everything from when you’ll study for specific tests, to when you’ll sleep, eat, and take breaks. Key here is to fill in your calendar starting with the last exam you’ll take. From there, plan your time for the second to last test and continue to work your way backward( third to last test, fourth…), scheduling the time necessary for each. This approach will prevent you from running out of time and getting completely hammered on your last couple of tests. This, of course, assumes that once you make the schedule you’re going to stick to it.

Remember, quality study time is as or more important than sheer quantity of time spent with your face in a book. Where and when you study can make a huge difference. And finally, this is not a sleep deprivation experiment. You can’t function without sleep. You won’t think clearly and, quite simply, you won’t do well.

If you make good decisions, finals weeks can become a competitive advantage – helping you separate yourself from the pack.

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