5 Secrets to Prepare for Final Exams

With the fall semester wrapping up, we know Vulcan Villagers (yes, I just made that up!) are going to be hitting the books and cramming for final exams next week. As someone who has been in the higher education environment for the past 20 years, I have a few secrets to share with your regarding how to handle prepaing for final exams.

1. Ask Your Prof What is on the Test –  This may sound a little bizarre, but sometime it is that simple to find out how you need to prepare. Granted, when you ask, do not sound like a slacker that simply wants the answers. Rather, approach the professor from a standpoint that you want to know how to best prepare for the exam. There really should not be secrets as to how a professor is going to assess what you learned from the class material. Depending on the personality of the professor, you may get a glib “Read the book and notes!” You can probe further by asking what content areas you should concentrate on any further suggestions that they can give you. If they stonewall you again, leave it alone. However, most professors are truly interested in your success and do want you to do well so they should give you some insights as to how to study for the exam.

2. Stay away from the TV, social media, and video games when taking a short break –  These activities are major distractions that can be hard to walk away from. One quick round of “Call of Duty” can easily turn into three or more, and you’ve just potentially lost hours of time from studying. The same goes for Facebook and NetFlix. Your work breaks should be short in length (5 – 10 minutes) so save entertainment as a reward after finals are over.

3. Quiz Yourself – Cramming for finals is simply counterproductive. New research shows that  being tested is what really helps you retain information and not the hours of cramming. Take time to partner with a classmate and quiz each other on the class material. If your classmmate does not live at Vulcan Village, it is easy enough to email each other a small quiz that you can simply type up in the body of an email or in a Word document. Try to stump one another, but keep it realistic to what you will see on the exam.

4. Steer Clear of Alcohol  – I am not going to preach about the poor combination of alcohol and success in academics as the research on this is quite overwhelming; it is simply a no-brainer!  Save your brain cells for the intellectual work of studying for exams rather than keeping Anheuser-Busch in business. If you are of legal age, you have plenty of time to celebrate (responsibly, of course!) over the holiday break. Partying not only limits the time you have to study, but can cause you to be unrested for the actual exam.  

5. Get Your Rest – Simply put, you need to sleep. Adequate sleep and time management go hand-in-hand so do your best to create a schedule for your exam week. Super heroic feats of overnight cramming sessions fueled by caffeine-induced drinks is not the best idea for exam success or, more importantly, your health. There are a few days to go before finals’ week begins, so start now to study a few hours every night. This way you get your studying accomplished as well as setting enough time aside for sleep.    


What other strategies have you found helpful when studying for finals?  Please share your comments with our readers.


2 thoughts on “5 Secrets to Prepare for Final Exams

  1. I make a study guide from what my teacher gives me that will be on the test. When I write things down I seem to remember. I also study right before I go to bed and right before the test.

    1. Vanessa,

      Thank you for your post! Study guides are always a good idea to help narrow down what you need to review. You said you study right before bed, but another good idea might be to study right as you wake up; that way what you need to learn is the first thing going through your mind in the morning. Best of luck on your exams!

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