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Ready or Not, Here They Come: How to Help Your Student Survive Finals

November 30, 2018
Author Trish Baum is the Program Manager for Departmental Resources in Academic Support Services, where she works with students to help them develop personalized plans for academic success.

It's that time. At Baylor, we are finishing the last full week of classes and the Finals are about to begin (Dec. 6-11). Perhaps your student either has called or will be calling you stressed about his or her tests, and you aren’t sure how to help. Academic Support Programs (ASP) can give you some pointers.

Here are a few tips to help your student.

1. First and foremost, parents, be encouraging. Now is not the time to lecture on the importance of performing well or how goofing off at the beginning of the semester really hurt them. They know this. We see the struggle and regrets when they talk to us even if they do not show them to you.

Then, encourage your student to do the following:

2. Go to every Finals review session available.

3. Don’t waste the study days.
They are called study days for a reason. Today, Tuesday, Dec. 4 and tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 5, students have no classes or Final exams. It’s a great opportunity for students to find some interrupted time to prepare.

4. Come to the Learning Lab located in the west wing basement of Sid Richardson in room 021. We will help your students develop a study strategy for their finals, help them organize their materials, and still get the proper amount of sleep.

5. Study in short bursts. Research shows that the 50-10-50 rule (50 minutes of studying, 10-minute break, 50 minutes of studying) is more effective than hours of continued studying. The Pomodoro technique is equally effective with the 25-5-25 rule (25 minutes of study, 5-minute break, 25 minutes of studying). Studying using either the 50-10-50 or the 25-5-25 method allows the brain, during the 5 or 10-minute break, to file away the information recently learned.

6. Do not stay up all night and cram. Why not? Let’s get really technical:

Research from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
Stroke in 2007 showed that continual cramming before a test has
many repercussions. Without adequate sleep, the body is not
allowed to regenerate brain cells called neurons. The lack of
neurons leads to decreased brain activities in the cerebral cortex
which is responsible for cognitive functioning. Limited cognitive
functioning leads to poor memory retention, concentration and
attention to detail.

So, in short, your student may think he or she is doing the right thing by staying up all night and cramming, but would be far better off developing a more sensible study plan to use over the course of the next few days, taking advantage of waking hours to study more efficiently.

Through planning and organization, a student can successfully maneuver through finals. A student can plan and organize their material by filling out a Preparing for Finals Packet. The Finals packet will guide the student in making a study schedule allowing for breaks and other events going on during finals. Proper use of the study days to review the material over several days increases their memorization of the material and reduces stress.

Academic Support Programs is part of the Paul L. Foster Success Center and provides academic assistance to all Baylor students. Services offered are Academic Mentors, Supplemental Instruction (SI), free tutoring, the Learning Lab, instruction, and academic consultations.
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