Tips for Preparing for Final Exams

Create a Study Schedule
Set up a realistic schedule for studying. Be sure that it allows enough time to study for each of your exams. You may have 2 exams on the same day, so you will need to plan ahead to be prepared to take them both.

Be sure to allow enough time to sleep, exercise, and eat well. If you take care of your body, your body will take care of your mind!

Stick to your schedule!

Study in Chunks
Try to plan ahead and study in increments of 20-50 minutes and give yourself a 5 to 10 minute break in between, rather than procrastinating and cramming at the last minute.

Learn how you study best
“Everyone learns differently,” says Dorsey. “Just because your friend makes color-coded outlines, it doesn’t mean that’s the best way for you to study too. Change the lyrics of a song you know to help you memorize the countries of Africa. Write a funny story about the characters in The Scarlet Letter. Any studying is good studying, so do it the way that works best for you.”

Listen to Classical Music
Studying and listening to classical music has been shown to activate both sides of the brain, which is said to increase the amount of relevant information that will be retained.

Review Your Notes
Outline your notes. Look to see how previous tests used the material in your notes. Mark areas in your notes of which you are unsure. Ask your professor or a classmate about the areas you have marked.

Review Previous Tests
Tests that have been returned over the semester can be a good resource when preparing for the final exam. Look back over the tests to get a feel for the types of questions that the professor asks and the level of detail he/she wants in an answer.

Review Your Text
Skim and scan. Look to see how previous tests used the material in the text.
Outline major categories and subcategories. Make notes about the areas where you feel you are the weakest, so you can concentrate on those chapters.

Form Study Groups
Study groups are a good idea all of the time, but they are particularly effective when studying for finals. Assign each person in the study group a section of the course to review and “teach” to the others. Each person should develop possible test questions to cover their section.

Final exam time does NOT mean panic time! Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and relax. You will be surprised to find that you have remembered more than you think!

Get a good night’s sleep
“Eight hours is ideal for the night before an exam,” says Dorsey. “It may be tempting to stay up late studying, but remember: you’re going to need energy and focus while you’re taking your exam.”

Naturally energize yourself the morning of the test
“Do something stimulating the morning of the test,” says Gruenwald. “Don’t sit down and watch a back-to-back marathon of American Idol; that’s just going to zap your energy level. Instead, read a book, do a crossword puzzle, take your dog for a walk, or get some exercise. Do something that’s going to make you feel alive and positive, and will build up your energy level and confidence in the 24 hours before the test. Please, stay away from caffeine and energy drinks! Your hand will shake so that you can’t write coherent words, and you may crash in the middle of the test.”

Know when to stop studying
“Within 12 to 24 hours of the test, it’s time to stop studying,” says Gruenwald. “You’re not going to learn a lot of new content. The likelihood is much higher that you’re going to stress yourself out and confuse yourself. For the last minute studier, flashcards can be a good resource. They can earn you a few more points on test day, and it’s a much healthier thing to do than starting on page one of the textbook.”

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