1. Don’t panic (make too much of the final).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.
2. Don’t be too relaxed (make too little of the final).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.
3. Make time for "renewing" activities.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. But watch the
proportions here. Beware of doing 15 minutes of studying followed by a twohour
break to play a video game!
4. 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).
Click here to get information about an effective technique for exam study.
Whatever you do, don’t do it all in one long cramming session. Which brings
5. Get enough sleep.Don’t pull an "all nighter." You will do better if you are
rested, and cramming often leads to a superficial and confused knowledge of
the material you have studied. There is a reason why sleep deprivation is used
as torture. Failure to follow #4 and 5 can lead to writing nonsense on exams.
Teachers often fall off their chairs laughing at some of the silly statements that
appear on finals.
6. Resist the urge to party on "off" days. 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. REMEMBER: if you party, you
will need to recover! And research has shown that people who engage in highrisk
drinking deaden their cognitive skills (ability to recall and organize information,
7. 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.
8. Follow the rules of good exam taking.Click here for some tips on taking an essay exam.
9. Don’t worry about others finishing earlier than you.This could mean ANYTHING. It often
means these students have written a mediocre or poor exam. Take the time YOU need.
10. 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
Good luck everyone!
Throughout the week I'll be posting blogs about finals week on campus. Experiences I've had while at work and what it's like on campus during finals week... So, stay tuned!