My Tip-Top Finals Tips


Cue the dark, scary music because finals are approaching FAST. Finals week is a stressful time for anyone, especially if you’re new to this. I promise, it is not as scary as you think, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all be a little more prepared. So, whether this is your first or final finals week, listen up.

First off, there were a few things you should’ve been doing throughout the semester, like showing up for class, taking good notes, turning in assignments, and so on. If you did those things, great! If you didn’t...well, there’s still hope. Here’s a few tips.

Image via Revenue Talati Academy Syllabus

1. Know where you stand in the class

Before you even think about studying, you should know exactly what you’re up against. Before big tests or projects, I always calculate my overall grade. Doing this can either be a stress reliever or a motivation bringer, because nothing is a better kick in the pants than realizing you need a 110% on the final to pass the class.

You can use the “gradebook” section on ReggieNet to easily see your calculated grade, but many professors don’t turn on the actual calculator part. If that is the case, go back to your syllabus to see how grades are weighted (if at all) and calculate your grades based on how the points are laid out. If you’re still not sure, talk to your professor.

2. Find out as much as you can about the test

Preparing for a test gets way easier when you know what to expect. For example, studying for an essay-writing test is much different than studying for a multiple choice test. Hopefully, you’ll have a professor that is open to sharing some info. If not, don’t panic, just use what you know about previous tests in the class and grading habits of the professor, and do your best.

So, a professor may only disclose as they please, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from questions. You should ask your professor questions about your final exam, but do it in ways that they don’t think you’re looking for handouts. If you ask a professor “what should I study?” it sounds like you haven’t been paying attention all semester, because at the end of the day, the subject you’re learning about is the subject that will be on the test. Instead, ask specific questions about what to focus on while you’re studying. It will show the professor that you know what you’re talking about and that you’ve already begun studying and planning, even if you haven’t.

3. Plan ahead

And speaking of planning, do that! Get your studying materials early. Ask ahead of time if there will be a study guide provided, so if there isn’t, you have time to make your own. This is where study aid sites like Quizlet and Chegg come in handy; you can borrow flashcards, quizzes, and other notes to help you out.

Image via CollegeCandy

4. Schedule your time (ahead of time)

The final exam schedule has been up for a while now, so if you haven’t checked it yet, head over to this link and get in the loop. After 15 weeks of the same class schedule, shaking it up can get confusing, so make a schedule for the week and don’t forget to include what room the tests are in! You won’t always take the final in the same room you go to class, and the last thing you need to think about on exam day is how fast you can run from one end of the quad to the other.

5. Study in a way that works for you

Everyone has their own study tricks and tips, and everyone thinks theirs is the best, because it is...for them. My sister, for example, loves to use flashcards and have other people quiz her out loud, but I remember things way better when I am looking at the question alongside the answer. Sounds crazy, I know, but it’s because of the ways we learn: I learn visually and my sister learns aurally. My advice is to try everything until you figure out what works, and start by thinking about your own strengths and weaknesses.


This one is in all caps because I need to remind myself of this, too. Times of high stress are when self-care becomes the most important. Remember that final week schedule you're about to write? Pencil in some down-time, you’d be surprised how easy it can be to forget to take some breaks. So, in the middle of that 5-hour cram session, set a chill alarm. Give yourself a 10-minute break (at least) every hour. Take some deep breaths. Fuel your body. Do some stretches. Call your mom. Whatever you have to do to get refreshed, do it, and get back into it.

7. BONUS: Laugh to Learn

This is my personal trick, I literally don’t know if it works for anyone else because I’ve never heard of anyone doing it, but let’s find out! I always write jokes into my notes and study guides. First, because I tend to find myself pretty hilarious and if my notes can in any way entertain me, I’m way more likely to look at them again. Reading facts and definitions over and over is exactly as boring as it sounds, so do what you can to make it less boring. Also, I’m more likely to remember a joke than a straight fact, so humor improves my memory and helps me retain the information.

Good luck, everyone!