It’s easy to panic when final exams approach. Suddenly you forget almost everything you learned in the term, and the prospect of multiple exams, one right after the other, is daunting if not petrifying. We’ve been through the process many times ourselves, so we know the feeling. We also know panicking and worrying don’t do any good. As a college specializing specifically in healthcare education, we’re best equipped to share advice suited to students taking healthcare finals. However, these tips should apply to all test-takers regardless of of their field of study. Anyone who’s prepared can survive finals, and keeping these six things in mind will help!
…but better late than never.
Technically, you’re always studying for finals throughout the semester. Everything you learn is a potential question that could be on the exam, so reviewing concepts, terms, and practices every week would ensure you’re prepared. Of course, that’s how the ideal healthcare student approaches finals, so for 99.99% of the rest of us, just starting as soon as possible is best. The more time you give yourself to review and study, the more thoughtfully and peacefully you can approach the material. And if you wait till the last minute, even a day or handful of hours of studying is better than nothing … but don’t wait till the last minute.
Whenever you begin preparing for your final exams, make a plan before you actually begin studying. Outline your exam schedule and decide what days and times you’ll devote to each final. You may need to draft up study guides first, so identify key areas in classes that will require more of your attention. Once your plan of attack is created, follow it, but adjust accordingly if you find yourself unexpectedly bogged down (or blazing through) an area of study. A strategy will make your studying more productive and manageable, and most importantly, less stressful!
If your instructor offers office hours or study sessions, attend them; if you’re given study guides, use them; if you have access to practice exams, take them. Resources like these are designed to alleviate the stress and reduce the challenges of preparing for final exams. They can only help, so whenever they’re available, take advantage of them.
You may feel stressed and overwhelmed and worried, but none of those things will help you get through finals; in fact, they’re more likely to prevent your retention of knowledge. A final exam schedule may never be fun, but it doesn’t have to be horrible, even if you’re putting in long hours and spending more time alone than you’d prefer.
Remind yourself that everything you’re learning isn’t just to fulfill a requirement; it’s to make you a better nurse, medical assistant, or dental lab technician. This perspective can make studying more rewarding, if not pleasant. And studying can be pleasant! Be patient with yourself and your mind; approach finals pragmatically, not frantically; and give yourself breaks and rewards to make the study sessions more manageable and enjoyable.
Related Resource: 5 Ways to Make Studying Less of a Chore
Part of making studying for healthcare finals more pleasant is making sure you have enough rest. Don’t forget to sleep when you’re studying, and try to cut out as many things as possible that take up time and energy. Laundry and vacuuming can (usually) wait a week, and your exercise shouldn’t be so intense that it leaves you exhausted. Take care of yourself, physiologically, especially as you’re studying why that personal preventative care is so important.
Related Resource: 10 Tips to Sleep Better During Nursing School
Never forget that. We always tell our nursing students preparing for the NCLEX to go with their gut: When you can’t decide between two answer options, choose the one you first leaned toward and don’t change it. Statistically, you’re more likely to pick the wrong answer when you go back and change your mind. This is because deep down, nursing students know the material, even if they can’t consciously recollect it.
The same is true on any healthcare final exam. You’ve sat in on lectures and attended lab. You’ve read your textbook. And you’ve probably studied exactly what you need to answer each question. If you prepared, be confident that you have the skills and knowledge to pass.
We’re committed to helping our students succeed throughout the semester and into finals. If you’re looking for additional pointers or have some extra advice to add, give us a shout on Facebook! As always, we’d love to hear from you!