Final exams are different from regular exams. For one, they all come at the same time, so require a good deal of organization and balance. For another, you may need to synthesize concepts covered during the entire course of the semester, which requires a comprehensive mastering the material (not just memorizing). Below are some tips for doing your best on your final exams.
Be Mentally Prepared
- All final exams are not created equal - some will comprise 60% of your final grade, others 20%; some cover material from the whole semester, others just since the last exam. It is helpful to know where your grade stands before entering the final and how much your performance on the final will influence your grade for the semester.
- You are probably better prepared in some subjects than others. Know your strengths and weaknesses and plan to allot more time to prepare for those subjects which take more effort.
- Find out what the exam will cover (chapters, lectures, handouts), and if the exam is objective (multiple choice, fill-in the blanks, matching) or subjective (essay). Prepare accordingly.
- Make up an exam schedule for yourself, including study time, meals, rest and recreation - account for every waking hour (or half hour) between now and the end of finals, so you fit everything in. Taking a half hour to do this is very important!
- Study a little bit each day to alleviate cramming.
- Studying in more, smaller blocks of time than less, longer periods. Studying is most effective when you plan to concentrate for two or three hours and take reasonable breaks (15-30 minutes) between them. It is also more effective to work on more than one subject over the course of an evening, rather than working on a single subject all night. The change of subject will refresh your mind and keep you more alert and engaged. It's easy to spend too long on a subject in which you are not making progress.
- Study in an environment free from distractions.
- Consider forming a study group for the subjects in which you need assistance.
- Jot down questions in the margins of your notes to make sure you go back and cover all the bases.
- Quiz yourself! Think about what the professor would ask and then ask that to yourself.
- Recite, recite and recite to make sure you remember key concepts.
- Eat and sleep well. These are essential, not just on the day of the test, but every day. Health and happiness go hand in hand.
- Acknowledge that you are your own worst critic, and can be your own strongest supporter. Don't let feelings of fear and self-doubt discourage you. Yes, you have a lot of work to do, but you most certainly can do it.
- Remember to ask for help if you need it. There are many resources for academic support at Stonehill. Do not hesitate to contact someone in Academic Services & Advising if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Take some deep breaths to relax before the exam begins.