It’s final exam season again, so students will be working hard to review the content from the entire year in advance of writing their exams. This can be a daunting task, particularly if you have multiple exams that you need to study for. Here are 5 tips to help students with preparing for their final exams:
5 tips to help you prepare for your final exams
- Start studying early – Many students like to “cram” throughout the year, studying only a day or two before a test. Because the volume of content is much higher for a final exam, cramming will not only be ineffective, but if will also be very stressful. Students should make sure they give themselves plenty of time to study for their exams to reduce stress, and also increase the effectiveness of their studying.
- Make a plan / schedule – At the beginning of the exam period, get out a calendar and lay out your final exam dates on it. Then plan out which subjects you will study each day, and for how long, ensuring that you leave yourself plenty of time to study for each exam, and that you are not studying for too long each day. This will help to guide your study process, and ensure that no last minute cramming creeps into your final exam review period.
- Don’t overdo it – Studying for 16 hours in a day simply is not effective. Your brain can only retain so much information in one day, and rest / sleep is important between study sessions in order to allow content to settle in. 4 to 8 hours of studying in a day is PLENTY, so try not to exceed that unless you absolutely have to. Make sure to take lots of breaks as well, as this will help to limit fatigue during a study session.
- Create a good mix of studying theory and practicing solving problems – Reviewing for math and science final exams requires a mix of studying concepts and theory with practicing solving problems and questions. Both are important, so make sure to do a bit of each every day. This will help to keep you engaged during your study sessions, and will reduce fatigue and boredom. I find a mix of 70% solving problems with 30% reviewing theory is an effective mix for studying for a math or science exam.
- Start with the sections that you were least comfortable with – Most people when they start studying will immediately start with the section at the beginning of the course, and move through the course in order. This would seem to make sense, however if you thought that the first unit was the easiest unit, and the last one was the hardest one, this will result in you spending time on the content that you are most comfortable with, while potentially running out of time to review the content that you felt the least comfortable with. With this in mind, try starting with the section that you found most challenging, and move through the sections of the course from most to least challenging. This will help to ensure that you have lots of time to spend on the content that you need to spend more time on, while minimizing the amount of time you spend on content that you already understand well.