These helped me come out alive out of that one semester from hell.
There was one year when I really thought I was going to flunk all my finals. And I wasn't even a bad student. Actually, I was usually on top of my game, but that year I was struggling to pay for college and I was working full-time while also going through some very difficult personal stuff. Being behind in school doesn't make us lazy or careless, though. Sometimes we just go through a lot of stuff that distracts us and we focus our attention on everything but our studies. As the saying goes: "shit happens." However, I managed to get "A"s on almost all my classes. How? Well, would you believe me if I told you that there are many options and support groups out there that, if you plan ahead, can actually help you pass your finals and get good grades as well? Here's how I survived the most difficult semester of my life.
Say goodbye to social media and your personal life.
You only need two things to pass your finals: determination and dedication. Got that? Good, now log out of Facebook, temporarily delete Instagram and Snapchat, and hide the remote so you don't get distracted your favorite series on Netflix. Cancel all previous plans and say no to all invites to parties and outings: finals are coming and you need to be 100% focused in order to pass.
Open a group chat with your classmates.
You should know how much information you need to absorb and how much time you have left to absorb it. You might be determined to study your hardest in order to pass these exams, but if you don't have all the studying materials needed to review, it's not going to help very much. Don't ask around for incomplete notes you won't be able to copy. Instead, open a group chat with your classmates and share all the intel you have about the final: the most important notes, study guides, possible topics to be covered, and even questions regarding lectures you didn't understand. Group chats are perfect because you don't need to wait for class to solve a question you have; simply text it to the group chat and someone will have the answer.
Create a shareable document with a classmate and start a study guide.
Online documents allow multiple people to write, edit and make corrections to the text, and everyone gets a copy of it without having to meet up or print it. This is something I did with my classmates and we created the best study guide ever. I divided different topics among the members of the group chat and each one of us researched and wrote a summary onto the shareable document. The day before the final, I read the study guide four times and felt more than ready to knock that test down. If the group chat idea worked out for you, this would be the following step.
While study guides are great for subjects like history, English, and other classes with a lot of heavy reading, classes where students are asked to solve scientific or mathematic problems might require other kinds of guides that help with problem-solving. In this case, I would suggest joining an online community with an emphasis on supporting students. There are many websites out there, even apps, but the one I used and worked best for me was Google+ Communities. The reason why I suggest Google applications so much is because almost everyone has a Google account, which gives you automatic access to all Google apps.
Schedule study sessions.
Grab a calendar and look for open gaps in your schedule to dedicate them to study sessions. Studying at short but frequent periods of time is better for your memory and retention than a single, long session. In fact, if you happen to miss one study session, you can relax knowing that you still have a couple more sessions left scheduled. The worst mistake you can do is to leave everything for the last minute because you’ll try to absorb too much information in a short period of time, and you’ll probably forget most of it.
Is there still a possibility of extra credit?
If you’re still unsure of how well you’ll retain this information and want a plan B, consider asking your teacher about extra credits. If you approach your teacher and share your concerns about your grade, they’ll actually see it as a positive initiative, and they might be kinder to you when they grade your work. Regardless of how strict they might be, when you ask for extra credit, tell them that it would be great if it had something to do with a topic that will be on the final; that way you’ll study and get extra credit.
You should always try to at least talk to your teacher about any options. The worst that can happen is they'll say no. But my experience has showed me that you have a better chance of getting your teacher’s sympathy if you show them you're interested in your grade. It's also important to manage your time wisely: don’t leave things until the last minute because that will only result in a low or fail grade. And take advantage of the internet's power to transmit information without leaving your home.
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