Study Tips for Final Exams
By EJ Edney, Senora Miller-Logan and Barbra Gilley
Thanksgiving break can be an exciting time for families. Parents are happy to spend time with their children, and students are looking forward to a well-deserved break from classes. For college students, the excitement of being home, connecting with friends and enjoying the extra rest can be welcome distractions from what awaits them upon their return to campus: Finals Week.
Far too often, students miss the opportunity to take advantage of their extra free time during the break and return to campus anxious about preparing for final exams and their last round of assignments. With the following tips and the proper support from parents, family and friends, students can enjoy the Thanksgiving break and return to campus prepared to face finals with confidence.
Start with a Plan
A week free of classes, student organization obligations, work and other responsibilities can seem like a very long time. However, it is important to remember that each day is an opportunity to spread out the work you’ll need to do in order to do well on your finals. If you do not plan out your time, you run the risk of increasing your anxiety about the approaching assignments and finals. Many studies prove that repetition maximizes retention and makes it easier for students to recall information when tested. Starting early with a clear plan is the best way to make sure you have enough time to study properly.
Start by reviewing your syllabi and class notes for information about your finals and end-of-semester assignments. Pay special attention to the format of your finals. Some finals are cumulative, which means they cover all of the material from the semester, while others only cover the information from the last half of the course. It is important to know how much information you will need to master for your finals and how much effort you’ll have to put into your final assignments before you set your study schedule.
Once you have a good idea of how much work you will need to do to wrap up your semester, create a schedule for finals week. The schedule should include the time and location of each final exam and a study plan for each course. You can find out when your finals for each class will take place by clicking this link. After you have completed all of these tasks, your next steps are to analyze your resources and prepare a personal health plan.
Analyze Your Resources
At this point, you should be familiar with all the materials for your cumulative exams. Take advantage of the time to target the material you have not learned and master the information with which you are already familiar. As you prepare for your finals and end-of-semester assignments, think about the following:
- Are your notes adequate? Do they cover lecture material and information from the text?
- Have you reworked or rewritten your notes?
- Rewriting and reorganizing notes is one of the best ways to study. Use your notes to come up with potential questions that may appear on your exams.
- Have you used multiple channels of information?
- Blackboard resources, library resources, classmates, professors and even YouTube are all potential sources for helpful resources.
- Do you have access to previous tests? If so, ask yourself: Why did I miss the questions I missed? Can I recall the answers I got right?
- Don’t memorize the answers. Instead, try to understand why your answer is correct or why it was wrong.
- Can you recall what you’ve studied?
- Closing your book and notes and simply writing all that you can remember about what you’ve studied is one of the best ways to ensure that you will be able to recall the information on the test.
Prepare a Personal Health Plan
Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, finals week can be very stressful. In planning to fulfill academic requirements, students often forget to plan time to take care of themselves. Be sure to incorporate time to eat, sleep and relax into your study plan. DO NOT plan to do all-nighters. A well-rested mind will increase the chances of receiving higher grades on final exams, which will lead to a more enjoyable winter break.
Parents, family and friends can be a very important part of a successful end to the semester. They can help students attend to their personal health and overall success by sending their students back to campus with care packages, encouraging them to take time to rest, respecting their study plan and remaining supportive throughout the rest of the semester.
By encouraging students to follow the tips outlined here, parents, other family and friends show their students that they care about their success.
EJ Edney is director of the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. Senora Miller-Logan and Barbra Gilley work in Luckyday Programs.