Excelling at UC Berkeley is definitely tough, and I, for one, used to be unsure how to go about many of the things I was told were vital to my success. Out of everything I’ve learned thus far, one thing I know for certain is that it’s never too early to start preparing for finals. Believe it or not, finals are right around the corner. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself in finals week with your next blink. As a Golden Bear, you have to learn how to use your time wisely. Granted, this is easier said than done, but here are a few tips and easy ways to go about them that have helped me personally prepare for and excel on finals.
Continue keeping up with class work
Technically, if you’ve been going to class and completing the corresponding homework assignments, papers and projects, then you’re well over halfway there. Finals are designed to test what you’ve learned over the course of the semester and to make sure you’ve grasped the important concepts from the class. If you’re going to office hours, keeping up on the readings and completing the assignments, you have a solid base from which you can start studying. If you’re reading this thinking you are completely screwed because you haven’t been keeping up with class work, don’t panic! This is completely understandable given the conditions of this semester. I would advise that you spend a few minutes now creating a study plan to ensure you can catch up on everything before RRR week/dead week.
Take advantage of midterm season
You’re probably well aware that “midterm season” at UC Berkeley can start as early as the second or third week and stretch all the way to the week after Thanksgiving break. Some classes have one midterm, which makes sense because the midterm is supposed to be in the middle of the term, as the name implies, while others have three midterms, causing students to be taking exams throughout the entire semester. Regardless of how many midterms you have, it is important that you make thorough study guides for them. But here’s the key: You have to keep reviewing these study guides even after you take your midterm. If you think about it, you’ve already spent so long cramming everything into your head last minute, so you might as well not let all of that procrastinating go to waste. If you simply look at your study guide for literally five minutes every day, the same amount of time it would take to make instant ramen for you and your roommate, you’ll be absolutely golden when it comes time for the final exam.
Take finals seriously, even if you’re not taking your classes for a letter grade
I know finals are online this semester and the College of Letters and Science has granted students the option to pass/no pass their major requirements if needed; however, this doesn’t mean you have a free pass on studying. You still need to complete the assignments and try your best to get that passing grade. After all, isn’t that why you are going to school — to constantly try your best and expand your knowledge on a certain subject? Set your priorities straight if you have other responsibilities to take care of, but make sure you find time to study.
Things you can do right now
I know you’re thinking that you still have tons of projects and papers due in the coming weeks, but after Thanksgiving break, there is only one week of classes, then dead week and then boom: finals. This means that it would be a good idea to start this weekend. Wake up early this Sunday morning when your apartment or house is nice and quiet, make yourself a cup of tea and spend a couple hours creating your study plan. You can start your actual studying by pulling out a blank piece of paper and writing down a list of everything you remember from a certain class without looking at your notes. Then, go back through your notebook and add more important concepts you didn’t write down previously. Continue this process until you’ve gone through all your notes. In only a couple hours, you now have papers filled with the most important concepts you’ve learned so far. So now, you have five or six pages of information to study and hone into your memory instead of your 100-page notebook. See?! You’re already off to a great start.
I cannot emphasize enough that there is no such thing as preparing for finals too early. Don’t wait until dead week to cram four classes worth of material in your head — instead, start now. We at the Clog are wishing you the best of luck! You can do this!