It may seem like you just finished up your midterms, but it is already time to start focusing on preparing for your final exams. The end of the semester is in the near future, and you will want to finish off your courses on the best possible note. At University of the Cumberlands, we want all of our students to be successful, so we have created this guide to help you learn how to study for exams and prepare for the last several weeks of school.
How to Study: Test Taking Tips for Final Exams
It does not matter whether you are finishing up a first year writing course or tackling a higher-level science course that is required for your degree, you need to be able to study effectively in order ace your final exams. These test-taking tips will help you be successful, no matter what type of content you have been focusing on for the last several weeks.
1. Get organized and create a study schedule in the weeks leading up to your exams.
According to The Princeton Review, creating a study schedule is one of the best things you can do to make sure that you are ready for all of your exams. Allocate at least 20-30 minutes each day for every exam you will take. Break your topics down into manageable chunks and follow the schedule that you set. This will help you better retain the information and also allow you to feel cool, calm and prepared for the exam.
2. Create flashcards and quiz yourself when preparing for multiple-choice exams.
Flashcards are a traditional study tool, but they have proven to be very effective for all types of learners when preparing for a multiple-choice exam. As you create the flashcards, you will be committing the facts and definitions to memory. Then, you can use these flashcards to review and memorize the information.
3. Write practice essays if you are going to be taking an essay exam.
Essay exams are a different style than a multiple-choice exam, and flashcards or study guides may not the most effective study tools. If possible, ask your professor for sample essay topics, and use information that you have learned from your course to practice the style and tone of your writing.
4. Partner with other students in your courses and study together.
Study groups can be very effective, but it's important that you balance the studying accordingly. Both you and your study buddy should create personal review guides. Use them to quiz each other. In the age of social distancing, it may not be possible to study in the lounge or head to each other's dorm rooms. Instead, create a digital study session on a videoconferencing platform like Zoom.
5. Review all of your notes.
Rewrite the highlights that you feel will be most relevant to the exam. This technique of reviewing the material is one of the most effective ways to recall the most important information during your exam.
Test Anxiety Tips: How to Eliminate Your Exam Day Stress
The stakes are high when you are taking final exams, so it's not surprising to experience some type of exam day stress. However, it's important that you are able to manage your stress levels and keep yourself as calm as possible, because test anxiety can have a detrimental impact on the results of your exams.
If you suffer from exam day stress, then these test anxiety tips can help:
1. Create an exam day routine.
Routines have long provided people of all ages with structure, giving them an idea of what is going to come next. On a day that is destined to be filled with some form of anxiety, the Mayo Clinic notes that a routine can give you the reassurance that you need to feel confident and calm. Your exam day routine should include waking up early enough so that you can relax a bit, refresh yourself and spend a few moments doing some last-minute studying. Practice this routine in advance so that you have it down to a science on the day of your final exam.
2. Talk with your professor prior to the exam.
Obviously, your professor is not going to provide you with the answers to the upcoming exam or with a breakdown of all of the information that you will need to know. However, most professors are willing to provide tips for how to study effectively for their exams, and many may even provide you with guidance for what type of information they prioritize when creating their exams. In most cases, professors are ready and willing to help in whatever way possible because they want you to be successful, as well.
3. Study early and study often to avoid feeling unprepared for the test.
Lack of preparation is one of the largest causes of test anxiety. You can eliminate this factor by creating a study schedule early and sticking to it. When you feel like you have mastered the information that was presented throughout the course, you are less likely to feel nervous or anxious about the exam. By studying effectively over the course of several weeks, you will feel confident and ready to take that critical last exam.
4. Take your time during the exam.
Avoid trying to beat the clock. It can be tempting to try and get your exam finished as quickly as possible, but it is much better to take your time and consider each element of the exam carefully. While taking your time is important, you will need to be mindful of the amount of time that you spend on each portion of the exam. For example, if an exam includes a multiple-choice section as well as an essay, you will want to make sure that you give yourself enough time to complete every aspect of the test. Budget your time prior to beginning the test and try to stay on track. Sometimes it's better to make an educated guess than to spend a significant amount of time agonizing over one or two questions.
Tips for Exam Day: What to Do
When the day of your final exam arrives, you need to prepare your body and mind for the test. Here are a few things you should do on exam day to help keep your mind sharp and your body relaxed:
1. Eat a well-balanced meal prior to the exam.
If your exam is in the morning, then you will want to start your day off with a hearty breakfast—even if you often skip the first meal of the day. If you are taking an afternoon exam, then make sure you eat a light breakfast as well as a nutritious lunch. Your meals should consist of lean protein and fresh fruits or vegetables. Try to avoid fast food or anything that is very greasy. Also, do not drink caffeinated beverages before your exam. In fact, water is the best drink you can choose on exam day. When you prioritize your physical health on exam day, you will feel refreshed and energized during the test itself.
2. Fit in some exercise if you can.
Getting some exercise and staying active on the exam day will help you clear your mind before you begin taking the test. It's important to choose an activity that you enjoy. For example, you might want to do a 30-minute yoga session when you first wake up in order to get into the right mental zone before your exam. Or, you may decide to walk to the exam site rather than take the bus across the campus. By taking time to be active, your body and mind will feel rejuvenated and ready to endure the pressure of the exam.
3. Practice positive thinking as you head into the exam room.
Your own morale can have a bigger impact on the results of your test than any number of other factors. Some students find that having a test day mantra is beneficial. If you start to doubt yourself, repeat positive phrases such as "I can do this." or "I know this information." as you continue to take the exam. Create a mantra that is right for you and go into the test repeating it. If you say it and believe it, then it is more likely to come true!
Begin preparing for final exams early this year, and you will avoid those all-nighters during exam week. In fact, some believe that extra sleep is better for you than a few extra study hours. By getting organized and prioritizing self-care, you will be ready to have your best finals week yet.