Final Exam Survival Tips

I’m taking a short break from holiday posts to write for those you who have final exams coming up!

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in school, finals week can really take a lot out of you. These are my top 10 tips to help you survive finals!

  1. Mark Your Deadlines. First, mark deadlines like paper due dates and test times. Next, check for conflicts if you have two tests that overlap, or if you’re scheduled for work during a test time, you need to resolve that as quickly as possible.
  2. Set a Study Schedule. While you have your calendar out, mark out your study plan for the days ahead – you dont want to be studying for a history test on Friday if you have a Math test tomorrow. Schedule time for the nearest deadlines first, and break your time into hours and subjects. Don’t try to spend all day studying one thing or you will burn out. Also, remember that it will probably take you longer than you think to write a paper.
  3. Take Care of Your Body. If you don’t take care of your body, you could hit a slump right when you need the most energy. Take time to eat healthy meals (that means fruits and veggies, carbs and proteins, not just a Snickers bar and a Gatorade) and schedule time for sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, check out these tips about how to fall asleep even when you’re stressed.
  4. Gather Your Supplies. Get your supplies: Blue Books, Scantrons, pens, pencils–well before the test starts. You don’t want to have to ask your professor if he or she has a spare Scantron.
  5. Make Outlines. One of the best ways to keep focused on what you’re studying is to make an outline (I’ve even made outlines of outlines for really hard classes). It helps if you pick out the key points which can serve as a study tool for later. Sydney at That College Kid has a great post about the basics of creating a successful outline.
  6. Rewrite Notes. Having a hard time making your lecture notes stick? Rewriting your notes takes longer than skimming them. The extra time you spend rewriting can help engrain the information in your mind.
  7. Get Creative. Everyone has a different studying style – some people are visual learners, others are better at listening. Find out what works for you, and do it. This can be anything from putting sticky notes with hard-to-remember facts on your computer monitor, to listening to podcasts of lectures while you eat breakfast.
  8. Be Honest. With all the stress and tension that goes on during this time, some students are tempted to get someone else to write their paper, to sneak an answer from the person next to them, or to plagiarize. It definitely isn’t worth it. Professors check for plagiarism, and the consequences of cheating on just one test could cost you your GPA.
  9. Take Breaks. Your mind needs time to rest and refresh, so taking breaks can help you feel more alert (as I mentioned when I wrote about how to stay awake when you’re studying). Make time to go for a walk, hit the gym, call a friend, or even watch some TV – it will help you refresh your mind.
  10. Finesse. For final papers, get someone to proofread! This is especially critical if you’ve done the whole paper all in one sitting. I did a lot of writing in college, and I can tell you from experience that you will almost definitely make some mistakes, especially during finals week. Also, make sure you staple your paper. You’d be surprised how many people turn in paper clipped or dog-eared final papers – it makes you look unprepared, and that could affect your grade.