As the semester draws to a close, the looming threat of finals weighs heavily on the minds of students. At the end of each semester, students stress, panic, and cram. This time, try a different approach. Follow these easy tips for stress-free finals.

  • Talk with you teachers. Find out what material and topics will be covered on the final exam. Finals can be cumulative and include all topics from the semester or year, or they may focus only on the most recent chapters. Some teachers forgo a final exam in favor of a final presentation. It is important to know what will be covered and if there is a review. Also ask if calculators are allowed, if a formula sheet will be provided, or if a notecard or notes may be used.
  • Create a schedule. Plan out when you will be studying for which subject. Planning is crucial because you will still have to complete current homework and study for upcoming tests while concurrently studying for your final exam. Be sure to allow for ample time to review. You do not want to be left scrambling at the last minute.
  • Start early. As soon as you know what the content of the final exam is or receive a review sheet, begin studying. Do not wait until the days before the exam to review! Remember, you are often required to know at least a semester’s worth of material for 4 to 7 classes. That is no easy feat. Consider forming a review group to help divide the workload. Make the deadline for group work at least a week before the test, so everyone has enough time to study the material.
  • Gather all your notes, quizzes, and tests. Start by reviewing the main concepts first and then move on to your trouble areas. Highlight or rewrite your notes to help your brain commit the information to memory. Redo problems from tests and quizzes, especially the ones you got wrong the first time.
  • Outline possible essay topics. If you have a written final, one with essay, or short-answer questions, take the time to brainstorm and create outlines for your responses. If prompts are provided, create a detailed outline of your essay to ensure the final exam goes smoothly.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast. It would be a shame to invest so much time and effort to flounder at the last moment. How well rested and energized you are can be the difference between a great test and a mediocre one.

Following these steps should reduce stress and improve performance. The bottom line: do not wait until the day before an exam to start studying. Being well-prepared will not simply influence your test grade, it will impact your semester grade and, in turn, your GPA. Good luck on finals!

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