It’s hard to believe the semester is almost over–only thirteen more class days.  Hopefully, you’ve already started studying for final exams; if not, NOW is the time to begin preparing for final exams so you can avoid cramming at the last minute.  Although cramming may be useful in emergency situations, your performance on a final exam should not be considered an emergency situation.  Why? What happens to us in any emergency situation? A certain amount of panic: hand-wringing, rapidly beating heart, hyperventilation; uncertainty leading to hastily made decisions, hoping you’ve made the right choice, praying for the best outcome. 

Cartoon of student studying for final examsDo you want to treat your grade like an emergency situation? Begin today to prepare for final exams so you won’t have to go into emergency mode two days before that critical final exam that could mean the difference between passing or failing, an A or a B, a C- or a C+. Below are some suggestions for preparing for finals. 

Plan a Study Schedule
This should help you systematically prepare. Set realistic grade objectives for each exam and prioritize your workload. A week’s preparation would be ideal; two to three days would be cramming, especially if you haven’t studied on a daily basis.
Decide which Topics to Cover
If your exam is cumulative, then focus on the unfamiliar material first before reviewing the familiar. If you do not know how much the exam will cover, ask your professor; the more information you gain, the more confident you will feel. Be sure you use active learning methods.
Correlate Lecture Notes with Textbook Readings
Process lecture notes making one summary sheet for each major unit covered, summarizing the information in your own words. Fill in necessary supporting details from your textbook. These summary sheets, one for each major unit, will be the basis for your final review.
Predict Questions
Based upon your summary sheet, predict possible exam questions. Compare and contrast relationships, diagram processes, and write out essays. Apply problems given new conditions. Work problems other than those covered in your homework.
Relax, Remain Positive, and Get Some Sleep
Pulling all-nighters does more harm than good. Get to the exam room with plenty of time to spare. Don’t study your notes until the last minute, and avoid groups of students quizzing each other right before the exam. Their nervous behavior can undermine your confidence.

Help in the Academic Support Center

Study Schedules
If you need some help making a study schedule for finals, drop by the Academic Support Center in Memorial Library.  I’m happy to help you.  I’ve placed printed study schedules on the bulletin board that you may have.  Or if you’ll email me, I’ll send you the file to download to your computer.  

Drop by the office, email me, or use the form on the ASC website to request a tutor.  Tutors are not your study partners–study partners should be your classmates in the class.  What a tutor can do for you is clear up any questions you have about a concept or process or questions you have about the text.  The night before your exam is absolutely NOT the time to request a tutor for the first time. 

As a final word: Don’t depend on hope, prayer, or cramming to succeed on your finals.  Only YOU can prepare for the exam, which is the only thing that will affect your performance on the exam.