How to Study for Finals for International Students

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 Congratulations, you are almost done with the Fall 2020 semester! We can all agree that this semester has been emotionally draining for many students. Due to the pandemic, the college experience has been completely different from mandatory face masks, virtual classes, and social distancing guidelines. Take a moment to be proud of yourself for being able to get this far in the semester during a global pandemic. All your hard work is finally paying off and as you finish up your last assignments, the final exam is the last obstacle on your way out, which can be stressful.

As campuses close, most international students are returning to their home country if they are not there already. This means finals will be taken online in the comfort of your own home. It is important to stay productive during remote learning, especially being home with family, as it can be easy to get distracted.

Here are some tips to help you during finals week:

Why is self-care important during finals week?

 No matter how many times you have experienced taking finals, you may still be overwhelmed each time. As a result of being overwhelmed, you start to neglect other important things in your life like taking care of yourself. Keeping up with your personal needs is important to successfully get through finals week. Social media gives you the impression that self-care includes bubble baths and tea times, however caring for yourself can be much simpler, even if it’s just a quick shower or a run.

Follow the tips below to take care of yourself during finals week:

1. Take frequent breaks.

Did you know, studying for 5 hours straight never works? Believe it or not, your mind needs time to process all the information you have learned. A more effective way to study for finals is taking frequent breaks. A break can simply be a 10-20 minute period where you use the time to take a walk, drink water, enjoy some fresh air, or take a nap! This is also a great time to give your eyes a break, as you should avoid looking at your phone or computer screen for too long.

2. Get a goodnight’s rest.

Sleep is essential during finals week even though many students think staying up all hours of the night is an effective way to study. In reality, lack of sleep decreases your ability to stay productive while studying . According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults ages 18-60 should get at least seven or more hours of sleep every night.  Here are some benefits of getting enough sleep during finals:

  • Improves your memory and concentration
  • Increases ability to stay awake throughout the day
  • Boosts your mood
  • Better test results.  

3. Don’t overwhelm yourself, you got this!

The most important thing about self-care is to be kind to yourself. Try not to stress or overwork yourself even if it’s finals week. Lowering your stress levels increases your effectiveness to study and take tests. Remember your body can only take so much at a given time and being overwhelmed only makes things worse. Here are some tips to calm your nerves during finals week:

  • Repeating positive affirmations is a great way to reduce stress during finals. Telling yourself that you will do well on your final exam will help you to accomplish it. Here are some positive affirmations just for you!
  • Download apps on your phone that will help reduce stress. Here are our 3 recommended apps, Aura, Daily Yoga, and Breathe2Relax.
  • Remember your mental health is more important than a grade. It’s hard to avoid stress, especially during finals week, however with a good support network you can get through this! Talking to someone during stressful times can help improve your focus. Many schools may host virtual events during finals week to help reduce stress. If you need additional assistance in managing your stress, you should contact your school’s counseling services.

Know the time zone differences.

Many international students are returning to their home country to finish the fall semester and professors have taught courses remotely at the same time and day as they normally would for in-person classes. One of the common challenges is adjusting to a different time zone so preparing yourself can make this a smooth transition. Although learning remotely gives students more flexibility, it’s important to have the right working space, mindset, and routine in place. See how other international students deal with time zone differences.

Here are some tips to help you adjust to remote learning in a different time zone:

 1. Keep a regular routine- Studying for finals from the comfort of your own home can be unmotivating for many students. Try to make time to plan your daily and weekly schedules and set up a location where you can sit at a desk or table to take notes.

2. Eliminate any distractions- Sometimes we create our own distractions if we do not feel motivated to study or complete assignments. We start scrolling on social media, clean, or focus on anything else that’s not school-related. Try to reward yourself with something you would like to do once you have completed your tasks for the day. This can include playing video games, watching a movie, or talking to your friends. If you get distracted easily, here are some apps to help you stay focused: Dewo, Freedom, and Focus.

3. Communicate with your professors- Communicating with professors has become harder due to the lack of face-to-face interaction when discussing coursework or asking questions. Be sure to let your professor know about the time difference so they can accommodate your circumstances. Remember your professor is there to help you if you are struggling to study reach out to your professor for further explanation. Don’t know how to talk to your professor? Check out these tips!

Make time to study!

Can you believe it’s already the end of the Fall 2020 semester? It’s completely normal to worry about final exams but you shouldn’t let it take over your life. With the right study method, it can become less of a workload and more of a resource to help you better understand the course materials. Want to know how to pass your final exams? Check out these tips to help you study:

1. Use study apps- There are many apps available to help you study that are either free or inexpensive. These apps help you get organized and focused on flashcards, periodic table of elements, graphing calculators, and so much more! We recommend using the following apps: Quizlet, Evernote, and Forest.

2. Attend review sessions- If your professor is offering a review for the final exam, you should go. This gives you the opportunity to go over the material you will be tested on, and you’ll now know what you need to prioritize when studying. You will also know how the test will be formatted, whether it’s mostly multiple-choice or short answer. Most importantly, you will be able to ask questions!

3. Virtual group study sessions- Studying with others has many benefits no matter your learning style. This gives you the chance to exchange ideas and take advantage of your friend’s knowledge of difficult subjects. Check out some tips on how to create a study group.


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