What's that coming over the hill, is it a-FINALS!!! ahhhhhhhhhhhhh
February 12, 2013 4:10 AM   Subscribe

Your tips and tricks for overcoming procrastination and revising for essay based exams please!

Hello hivemind, I have my English and History finals in about three weeks and I was hoping for some help on
a) how to overcome procrastination when the task at hand just seems so overwhelming and scary
b) how to revise for my exams, as in actual strategies and directions I could follow
c) how to concentrate when what you are studying is slightly dull, repetitive and dense
Thanks so much!!
posted by dinosaurprincess to Education (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
One thing I did was try to anticipate the questions that would be asked, and then make note cards with prompts for the essay.

For example:

If we had been studying San Francisco (and believe it or not that was a class I took at San Francisco State University-California's dopier university system) I'd anticipate some topics that would be asked.

1. Emperor Norton
A. Reign 09/17/1859 until his death 01/08/1880.
B. Appearances in literature-Twain, Stevenson, Gaiman.
C. Imperial acts

2. Cable Cars
A. Mechanism and engineering
B. Place within the history of public transportation (electric busses/trolleys, underground)
C. Resurgence as an iconic symbol of the city

You get the idea. I find that especially for an essay test, that getting these organized went a lot further for helping me remember than reading and re-reading the text.

Good luck, it's not that hard, it really isn't!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 AM on February 12, 2013

Finish the reading if you have not done so already. Go to any and all office hours. Ask about the densest and most boring stuff. If you can find previous years' exams, write outlines of essays in response to all of them.
posted by steinwald at 6:55 AM on February 12, 2013

Before you start studying, you should a) read the syllabus of the class b) look through your class notes briefly c) review past exams (if you have them). In a well constructed class you should be able to figure out your instructors' objectives from these sources. Also, if possible find out from your instructor what the final exam's format and objectives are. With this knowledge create your own brief online and relevant weights of topics. For instance, if you know that the final exam will focus on mostly the latter half of the term, focus your studying efforts on the second half of the class material. Use this outline to make a study plan/ timeline.

For English exams: besides knowing the general plot line/ major characters, etc. choose a few passages. Ideally, these selected passages were discussed at length in class, and illustrate a major point/ theme of the class/ book. Become familiar with these passages (reread them over and over, practice analyzing them, etc). Whenever possible use these passages as evidence on your exam.

For history exams: Each chapter/ unit gets one page of notes. You may fiddle with the margins/ change font size as much as you want, but don't go over one page. I suggest using tables in landscape mode. Each column heading is a major topic. Change the font color for each column heading to purple (for example). Subtopics go under each heading and are in red. Bold definitions/ terms. Put dates in <>. Also if the order of events is important for this class, for each unit choose ~5 major reference dates, and make a time line. (This can be on a separate page).

Also, studying with a carefully chosen class mate or two can be helpful. It's usually better to do this after you have studied a bit. I think white boards/ chalk boards make everything more fun.
posted by oceano at 10:28 AM on February 12, 2013

If I have to be sitting in front of a computer I like having some sort of timer so that I can goof around on the internet for five minutes but then when it goes off I MUST WORK for 25 minutes and then I can have another five minute break. I downloaded some tea steeping timer program, I think because it was recommended on metafilter. Google comes up with lots of them if you type in "tea timer."

I also really like having large (like, large sketch book or chart size) sheets of paper when I'm reading and as I go I'll write down ideas and organize them in a spatially logical manner to each other and draw lines between related ideas and colorcode different trains of thought. When I was writing my thesis and doing a lit review, this was how I made sense of all the different ideas I was getting in all the different texts and it helped me organize my thoughts into something coherent. I'm not sure how much it will help you at this point in your work and it's a very YMMV strategy based on individual studying style, but it works so much better for me than having pages of jumbled notes (though it's a pain to store and mostly incomprehensible to other people).
posted by geegollygosh at 12:56 PM on February 12, 2013

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