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12 Steps to Acing Those Final Exams


Girl studying on a bed
(Photo Credit)

So you probably think it’s a little early to be talking about finals. Why rush it when you can put off all that final exam anxiety for a few more weeks… right? Wrong. It may not seem like the appealing option right now, but getting a jump start on your final exam studying, or at least the preparation for that studying, can make all the difference in how well you do.

Even so, I’m not going to tell you ladies to crack open the books right this very minute, in the midst of the millions of things you have going on. But I am going to give you a few things to think about for when it is time to study. Consider this a guide for what you need to do a week before your final exams, the night before you final exams, and the morning of your final exams.

A Week Before Your Exam…

Laptop, books, and calculator on desk
(Photo Credit)

  • Compile all of your study materials. Grab your syllabus and run through your notes with it quickly to make sure you have all of the topics covered. If you’re missing something, find out what and why. Did you miss a class? Was something else on your mind that morning? Figure out what you’re missing and then…
  • Double check your notes with another student. Ask someone if you can borrow their notes from the class you missed. And offer up yours to them. Other students are one of your best study materials. After all, they’re in the same boat as you. Chances are they remember something you don’t, and vice versa.
  • Make yourself a practice test. Now that you have all of your notes, begin to test your knowledge of them… Before you study. Not only will it give you an idea of how much you’ll need to study, but it will also point out your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Ask the professor about any points that you’re still unclear on. Once you know your weaknesses in the class, determine how you can fix them. Do you just need extra study time or are the concepts unclear? If you’re unclear on any concepts, visit your professor during his or her office hours and ask him or her for some help. He or she will appreciate that you care enough to clear it up, and will probably remember that when it comes time to give you a grade.

The Night Before Your Exam…

Textbook and pen
(Photo Credit)

  • Get rid of all of your distractions. Log out of Facebook. Turn off your cell phone. Let your friends know that you won’t be available for Skype sessions or dorm room chats. Install a distraction-blocking program on your computer. It’s time for serious studying, and that is best achieved without interruptions – digital or otherwise.
  • Briefly review all of your study materials. There’s some material that you just know: For whatever reason, it just stuck in your mind the first time. So don’t waste valuable study time reviewing that same material over and over again. Give all of the material a once over and then…
  • Spend your time focusing on the areas in which you have difficulty. Study it until you know it. As many times as you need to. Don’t worry about how much time you spend on a particular area. Just worry about making it click in your mind. It will all be worth it when you see that question on the test and don’t have a panic attack.
  • Get some sleep. All that studying will be completely useless if you fall asleep during the test. So don’t try to pull an all nighter. Start early and then head to bed at a decent time.

The Morning Of Your Exam…

Textbook, pen, and highlighters
(Photo Credit)

  • Dress comfortably. You want to be comfortable… but not so comfortable that you fall asleep while taking the test. It’s a delicate balance, I’ll give you that. Lucky for us, one of our writers has already mastered the finals week wardrobe.
  • Don’t study the morning of. If you know it, you know it. If you don’t, you don’t. There’s no use trying to fill your brain with last-minute facts that just won’t stick. Instead, take the morning off. Have some breakfast and head to the test.
  • Get there early. Don’t be the person who shows up after the exams have already been passed out. Not only will you disturb everyone else but you’ll also lose valuable time.
  • Take a deep breath. Relax. Be calm. Let it go. You’ll be fine. It’s only a final. So don’t let the stress get to you. Do your best and then let it be. Just think: By this point, it’s almost over.

Even More Final Exam Tips!

Want more exam studying tips and info on how to survive finals week? Check out these vintage CF posts!

What do you think?

How do you prepare for final exams? When do you start studying? Got any study tips? Leave them in the comments below!

Posted on on April 24, 2011 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , ,

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19 Responses to “12 Steps to Acing Those Final Exams”

  1. 1
    April 24th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    For the week leading up to and the week of finals I take over the dining room in my house. I compile all of my books, papers, notes-anything I might need and stack it according to class. Even if I go to the library to study for a particular thing, I know that is my study space. I don’t have to clean up until after finals are over, that way I always know where all of my materials are.

  2. 2
    April 24th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I have had no problem studying the morning of an exam, but different things work for different people.

  3. 3
    April 24th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Luckily my final exams are done : ) just finished my last year of university… these articles you have mentioned are full of great tips!! I try to go over all the notes and readings from beginning of course to end (or from whatever part is going to be covered if it is not cumulative). I start studying a couple of weeks before. I would highly recommend getting used to studying with some amount of distraction around because in real life it is not realistic to have a total distraction-free environment. Chances are, you are never going to have that in your workplace.

  4. 4
    April 24th, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    thank you so much for writing this post…just needed to relax a bit….ive got exams for a month coming up in 3 weeks and still revising and i had such a bad day today cos stressed out i wouldnt get everything done.
    good luck to everyone and hopefully it’ll all go well :D

  5. 5
    April 24th, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    I never thought of testing myself before start studying. Sounds great! Thank you very much!

  6. 6
    April 25th, 2011 at 12:04 am

    I always study the morning of an exam…. It’s actually the best time for me to study. But then again… all my exams are always in the afternoon.

  7. 7
    April 25th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Technically, I think it’s best not to study the night before the exam. You don’t want to pysic yourself out. In fact, our AP teacher told us this. He’s even forcing us NOT to study the night before. We can only look at maps and graphs, but no reading from the book. But then again, different things work for different people. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, though! No need for falling asleep during the exam.

  8. 8
    May 1st, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for all the comments and advice girls! Good luck on all your finals! :)

  9. 9
    January 20th, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    If I hadn’t studied the morning of my exams I would NEVER have graduated! D U H !!!

    That is the WORST advice ever! I am way above average, but no whiz kid….I had to study, but retaining that drivel is difficult….study right b/4 the test & it is on the top of your mind~!

    Also, NEVER double check your notes with another student….rely on ONE …ONE…person…. YOURSELF!

  10. 10
    May 9th, 2013 at 10:17 pm


  11. 11
    December 6th, 2013 at 1:05 am

    guys thanks for the tips they really work!!!.I ihave my 3 sem btech exams for 3 weeks and started studing now!!! best of luck to alll!!!!:-D

  12. 12
    June 22nd, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    That’s not required when you wake up at last night of exam

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