It’s finals week. These are the times that try student’s souls. Finals can be very scary, but if you’re prepared you’ll have nothing to fear. Here are some quick tips to make it to summer in one piece.
Don’t panic (this isn’t the end).
The first thing you should do is to check what the final is worth in each course. Remember, it is only one component of your final grade. If it is worth 20% or less, you probably won’t be able to bring your final grade up or down by more than one grade level (e.g., B to B+), unless you perform extremely better or worse than you have on other exams and assignments during the semester. It probably won’t make or break your class.
But Don’t be too relaxed (It is still important).
On the other hand, you should try to do as well on the final as you possibly can. Furthermore, sometimes the final is a big part of your final grade (30% or more), in which case it is more likely to make a significant difference in your final average. It is better not to go into the final with the idea, “I just need to get x number of points to keep my B (or whatever it is) average.” It may not be possible to calculate this accurately anyway, since teachers sometimes compute things like participation grades at the very end. A final is never something to just write off entirely.
Make time for your regularly scheduled routine.
This is NOT the time to stop exercising or doing other things that you find enjoyable. Pace yourself! You will study more effectively if you spread things out and take breaks. Just make sure you get the ratios right. You won’t get very far if you study for half and hour and take two hours off!
Use an effective study method.
The key to effective retention is repetition, and not overloading your brain (it can only absorb so much in an hour). If you’ve stayed on track all semester, this should be a breeze. Whatever you do, don’t do it all in one long cramming session. Which brings us to:
Make sure you get enough sleep.
The dreaded “all-nighter.” Best to avoid this if you can. You will do better if you are rested, and cramming often leads to a superficial and confused knowledge of the material you have studied. Cramming does not do well for your general comprehension.
There is a reason why sleep deprivation is used as torture.
Resist the urge to party in between exams
You may have several days between your exams. Just because one is done doesn’t mean you are out of the woods yet. Instead, if you have a break in your exam schedule, use it to get a head start on the exams coming up. This can be a time to catch up on missed reading, or to complete Step 1 of “Immediate Preparation” in my study method.
Arrive on time for the exam.
Be especially careful about setting your alarm the night before. Save yourself the anxiety and embarrassment of arriving late. Needless to say, you may also need every minute of the exam period to finish the exam.
Check out your exam schedule here, with end of the year scheduling, .
Don’t worry about when everyone else finishes.
This could mean ANYTHING. If they finish well before you, it often means these students have written a mediocre or poor exam. Take the time YOU need, there is no rush. Better to do well than get it done fast.
When the exam is over, let it go!
Forget it! Move on to the next one, or go enjoy the break! If you do have major concerns, make an appointment to see your professor at a mutually convenient time.