10 Tips for Final Exam Prep


Megan Lowe

It’s that time of the semester…final exams are ready to roll around again. For some students, final exams don’t warrant much worry, but for others, they can seem like a disaster looming on the horizon. Perhaps the best response to the oncoming exam season is one in between these two extremes – final exams are quite manageable with the proper preparation. Read on for 10 tangible tips to help you maximize your finals preparation and finish out the semester with a grade you can be proud of.

  1. Organize your materials for each class: binders, folders, notebooks, and loose papers. If you use one binder or notebook to hold materials for multiple classes, separate them as much as possible. Organize your papers for each class by unit/chapter – if you’re given review materials in class, they will likely be organized by unit/chapter. As you’re completing your reviews, you will be able to quickly reference notes, worksheets, and quizzes.
  2. Talk to each of your teachers about the content/format of the final. Most classes have finals that assess the entirety of the semester’s content, but a select few tests omit some topics. Ask each teacher what you can expect to be on the final exam so that you don’t spend time studying material that you won’t be tested on
  3. Understand your finals schedule. Take a look at the final exam schedule and note when your finals will take place. On some days you may have no finals, but other days, you may have two or three. You only need to be at CLS when you have a final scheduled. The final exam schedule is designed so that each day of testing includes one lunch period – if you have a lunch on your daily schedule, you are guaranteed that period free of testing during finals.
7th Period. 9:25-10:35 AM 1st Period. 9:25-10:35 AM 3rd Period. 9:25-10:35 AM
8th Period. 10:45-11:55 AM 2nd Period. 10:45-11:55 AM 4th Period. 10:45-11:55 AM
9th Period. 12:05-1:15 PM 5th Period. 12:05-1:15 PM 6th Period. 12:05-1:15 PM

4. Plan your time. Now that you know the general plan for your finals, it’s time to develop a plan to make sure you get everything done. Decide which finals will require the most preparation, and begin studying for those first. You should start your preparation as soon as your receive review materials from your teacher or right after Thanksgiving Break if your teacher does not provide review. Depending on your personal daily schedule, you may benefit the most from studying for a lesser amount of time each day after school. Or, you may want to study for finals a few days during the week and put in more time on the weekends if you’re busier during the week. It’s best to write out a plan of attack (use a calendar or add reminders in your phone) and stick to it – you only need to follow your plan for two weeks and then take your finals before Winter Break!

5. Schedule study breaks for yourself. Working tirelessly will not do you any good – you should be working hard, but allow yourself some breaks! You might watch an episode of a show you enjoy or play your video game for a bit. If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed and feel as though taking a break would be wasting time, use your break to do something that is still productive. For example, you can use a break to take a shower, eat dinner, wash your laundry, or organize your backpack for the next day. All of these things still need to be done during finals crunch time, so take care of them when you’ve been studying for awhile.

6. Organize study groups. You need to be careful with this one because study groups can easily turn into social events. Socializing is important, but so is preparing for finals! Study groups are great resources to get some of your questions answered without having to schedule time with your teacher outside of class. If worst comes to worst, you can always ask your teacher those questions, but peers can be an excellent place to combine everyone’s strengths and weaknesses in order to be super productive at one time. Bring snacks, and make it a fun time!

7. Visit the Resource Centers. Again, if meeting with your teacher is difficult, the various resource centers are staffed with teachers and advanced students to answer all of your questions. This can also be helpful if you’re having a hard time understanding content that your teacher already explained to you – hearing the information from another person can often provide clarity.

8. Don’t fall behind on current school work. This can be difficult, but it’s best to do your current work first and then progress to finals review. If possible, integrate finals studying into your current work. For example, you might complete your assigned math homework and then find the section of the finals review worksheet that deals with the same content. Piecemealing your review may seem inconvenient, but it’s a very common strategy among students.

9. Sleep and eat well before your exams. You don’t want to waste all of your hard work and preparation by not taking care of yourself right before your test. We seem to hear the same advice before any big exam, but it’s tried and true – be physically ready to take that test!

10. Pack your bag ahead of time. For each day of finals, you’ll want to examine your schedule to see what you’ll need. You should plan to bring a snack, water bottle and sweatshirt for each day. Depending on your schedule, you may want to bring a lunch or money to purchase food. On some days, you may need a calculator and/or your Chromebook…make sure both are charged!

As long as you dedicate the time and effort to your preparation, there is no reason to be scared of exam week. All of your teachers want you to succeed and are available to help you. If you’re feeling stressed about finals, visit Student Services or talk to your teachers about how to reduce your stress. If you would like some input from a student who has lots of experience with final exams, you can email [email protected]…ask away! Best of luck to everyone in the next few weeks!