There’s one thing that most college students don’t look forward to in a semester/quarter, finals week. It’s that week when all of your studying efforts have to be combined. For some, it may also be the time when you use a calculator the most to calculate grade scenarios. But don’t stress out. If you properly plan your term, you can be ready to face finals week.
But before you begin studying for finals, consider this…
Start Preparing for Finals Week Early
When I say start getting ready for finals week early, I don’t mean, a week or even a month before that final. I mean the first or second week of the term. Why? Because most of the time when you go over the syllabus on that first day, you already know how the final will be.
If you know that the final will cover everything, it’s a wise idea to make sure you have your notes organized each week. This will help you study for it later on.
If it’s just going to cover a couple of chapters, you’ll know to make sure that you organize those notes.
Also, if you organize everything in the class at the beginning of the semester, it’ll help you later on.
So with that being said, here are some tips for studying for finals week!
Organize Chapter Notes/Content
Whether you were able to do it early on in the class or later on, organize your notes/content together. I’d recommend organizing them by chapter/section as this will greatly help with your studying efforts.
If your final will be heavily definitions or fact-based, consider making flashcards. Sure it might take a while to write down so much information, but it really helps to memorize things. Plus, you can ask anyone to help you study for it, without them knowing anything about the class. If you’re short on time, consider building the flashcards digitally.
Don’t Waste Time Calculating
If you’re in between grades and feel like the final can have an impact on your grade, don’t spend your time calculating the various scenarios. It can cause you to stress out more when it comes to taking the test itself and lose valuable studying time. Focus your time on reviewing the study guide from your instructor and your notes/homework, etc. If you don’t focus on the scenarios, your mind won’t have to consider any scores and will be able to completely focus on the final.
Don’t View Your Phone
If you can’t help but check your phone every time you get a notification put it on silent. It can be a great source of distraction while you’re focusing on studying. If you’re setting aside 1 to 3 hours to study a day often, you won’t be away from your phone for too long and it can make a difference. I would recommend telling friends and family that you’ll be studying so they know you’re not ignoring them.
I know it’s tough to not look at your phone every hour these days but you won’t be studying forever. And just think “my class is almost over and I can use my phone later”.
Don’t Make Plans Before & During Finals
It’s really important not to make any plans before (at least a week before) and during finals. Of course, if there are things you have to do on either weeks then you don’t have much of an option. What I mean is you shouldn’t ask friends or family to go out on vacation on either week. It can distract you so much and make you lose out on valuable studying time.
If there’s a road trip you need to go on, be sure to take your notes, book, laptop, etc. It may still be distracting but you never want to not take anything with you to help you study.
It can help you so much to re-read the chapters that will be on the final. This is especially important if the final is covering everything learned in the term. Sure, it might take hours to read chapters but trust me, it’ll be worth it.
If you start early, you could read a chapter a day and go over the questions at the end of it to better understand it. Of course, you could dedicate more than a day to the chapter if you start even earlier.
Use Your Study Guide
If your professor actually provided a study guide, use it. Never leave it aside and just study on your own because most of the time there’s much value in it. Consider that if they provided it then it will likely be on the test. It can also help you specifically focus on the couple of sections that will be covered.
Whether it be in class or during your professor’s office hours, it’s critical that you ask any question you have about the final (content or structure-wise). If possible, try to do it ahead of time so they see that you’re starting early. Also, consider that professors probably have their email inboxes full a week and during the week of finals. I think it works best if you just go to their office hours rather than e-mailing to be sure that you get all of your questions answered.
You can also ask your classmates questions about the class as they might have the answer to them too.
Consider Forming a Study Group
This usually works easily if you’re already working in a group for a class. If you aren’t, consider asking others if they’d like to study for the final as a group. The chances are that they’ll like the idea because you sometimes learn much easier by talking to others about what is on the final test. If your college has a library, they might have studying rooms so take advantage of these and reserve them soon if you form a studying group.
Tutoring on Campus
Some colleges offer free tutoring in a variety of subjects. If yours does, consider taking advantage of it to study for your final, but do plan ahead because it’s likely that they’ll be super busy around the time of finals week.
Find Your Distraction-Free Study Area
If you know you’re easily distracted by noises coming from outside, your television, phone, etc. consider finding a place to study at that’s noise-free. The library is usually this spot for many. It can truly help so much to be in a place that’s silent most of the time as this will allow you to focus on your studying time.
Ask For Time Off Work
If you work often and are finding it hard to be able to fully dedicate time into studying for your final, consider asking for time off. When I say “time-off”, I don’t mean take a full week off (although if you’re able to, that would be ideal), but even just a day off work. Dedicating one-full day (plus your usual days off) can help you so much. I’d even say consider asking for the day before your final day so that you can study for the final one last time before the test.
Have Your Backpack Ready
“Does anyone have a scantron I can borrow?” I’ve heard this multiple times and that question has contributed to this subheader. It’s important to make sure that you have everything you’ll be needing for the test ready ahead of time. You never know how the day will be like on the day of the final. With a final in mind, you might not even think about the essential things to have for the test and you could forget them. So at the very least, try to have your backpack ready to go the night before the final so you don’t forget anything important. Plus, while you’re studying, you could easily get too into the test that you forget about that scantron or pencil you need for it.
Sleep Well a Day Before Your Final
It’s really critical that you sleep enough before the day of the final. If you try to study and pull an “all-nighter” it might not work. When’s the last time that you’ve been writing an essay, falling asleep, and waking up the next day not knowing why you wrote about something totally unrelated? This is the same thing that happens when you try to study and not sleep much. You’ll likely only remember the information you saw in the first hour but not much or none at all of what came after. And I know, it can be stressful to have to sleep more knowing you have a final, but if you’ve studied for it with time in advance, you’ll be more confident. Don’t let studying interfere with your sleep.
Eat Before Your Final
This one might be overlooked especially if you have a morning final, but don’t overlook it. Make sure that while you study for the test, that you’re also not disregarding your hunger. It’s super important that you don’t get hungry while you study for your final and during the final itself because this can be a great distractor. Not to mention it could be embarrassing to have everyone in your class hear the sounds of your stomach growling (I’ve been there so I know how that feels). If you know you’ll be in a rush, consider buying a protein drink or bar that can help you study or get through it, without feeling hungry.
Finals week might seem overwhelming but with proper planning, you can change that around. In fact, you could have it become the week that you look forward to because you’re prepared for the challenge ahead.
Good luck to everyone taking a final exam in the near future!
Do you have any additional final exam studying tips like you’d like to share? Have you used any of these tips?