RECAP: Finals Week…how do you study?


I haven’t blogged in a while. December has been a super busy time for me. The next few posts will be about some things I have been up to, Hope and non-Hope related. So, I hope you enjoy!

Exam Week and the weeks leading up to it are extremely stressful and busy. If you think the first couple of weeks of the semester are bad, getting through the last week of classes is much worse. Mostly there are a lot of projects to finish, papers to write, exams to study for, and content to learn, especially if you’re a good procrastinator like me. :(. The best ways to cope, that I have found, is efficiency and increased productivity.

On a side note—We were able to have a bit of fun before the business started: Ugly Sweater parties are a must during the holiday season, and believe me… College students are BOUND to attend at least one or two. I attended one with my group of friends and, I have to say, my sweater was pretty ugly.

Other that that, I was so busy and filled with pure studying. I definitely didn’t know I could study so much… and sleep so little.

The best strategies I used this semester included vision boards, flashcards, and flowcharts (sometimes called Mind-maps). Here is one I made for Organic Chemistry reactions of aromatic rings… a section in one chapter of Orgo :(. I hung them all by my bed and woke up to them every morning, hoping they would sink it a bit better! 🙂 

If you learn like I do, flashcards are a god-send but sometimes are very annoying to make by hand, as they take a bit of time and resources. 

Most of the time, I use virtual flashcards because I can take them everywhere easily. On my phone (Apple iPhone), computer (Mac), or iPad, it’s easiest to use the GFlash+ app. You simply make an excel spreadsheet of your information with one column representing one side of the cards and the adjacent column showing the answer. The app will automatically connect to your GoogleDocs account to import information, which is really convenient. You can even add sound files or pictures to your flashcards, which is so useful, especially for chemistry and physics equations.

As far as I’m concerned, in terms of content, Sal Khan is a god. Creator and manager of the website, Sal covers academic topics from physics to chemistry to algebra to biology. He is so awesome and I even used him in high school. When I don’t necessarily grasp a concept as well as I could or need a quick brush up, I refer to his many videos and often times just a different teaching perspective is enough to help me understand a lot better. Check him out!

I have tried to use iTunes U more, but I can’t find a whole lot of curriculum tailored to my exact needs, since Hope doesn’t publish anything there currently. However, Moodle resources that professors give out are very helpful.

As far as notes, I have switched ALMOST completely to digital note-taking using my iPad. Bought specifically for school-usage in mind, my iPad has been really convenient in my first semester using it. I do love my MacBook, but I hate lugging it around and the weight in my bag with the power charger. My iPad is much smaller and lighter, and I can usually go two days on a charge in classes.

I use Complete Class Organizer ($4.99) on my iPad for the most organized notes, though a lot of my friends also use Evernote, which is free. Complete Class Organizer allows me to record class lecture and take notes (text or drawing) simultaneously. THEN: I can highlight text and pick up the lecture recording at exactly that point. I can also import images or graphs into my notes. I love that it is easily broken up into my different classes, organizing my notes by date and time as well. I can export notes to my computer via PDF or email or even print them from my iPad directly.  

I use a million other products for PDF’s, CLOUD sharing, PICTURE editing, sharing, etc. But if I included them ALL in a post, you would probably go crazy.

Do you have any great study tips for me? I can always use suggestions or new breakthrough ideas! Have questions about the products I use, or any that I didn’t mention here? Email me at or tweet me @hopeamanda15

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Published by Amanda Porter

Hi! I'm Amanda. I'm from Traverse City, Mi and I'm a Junior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major. I do research for the Fraley lab on the gut bacterial ecology of Pekin ducks and I work for the Chemistry department! Aspiring Neurosurgeon and LOVE to learn in all situations. Follow me on Twitter! @hopeamanda15