We're halfway through April, which means finals season is scary close. Whether you're ready to coast through the rest of the semester or are just realizing you need to really get your stuff together these next few weeks, becoming prepared for finals is a little different for everybody.
However, no matter your major, the number of tests you have, or how desperately you need an A on these exams, here are some of my top study tips, coming from an honors student who feels fairly confident in her test-taking abilities.
1. Make a calendar of your finals
Prior to starting any studying, go through all of your syllabi and make sure that you don't have any overlapping exams, which you would have to coordinate to move with your professors, and it also lets you have a better understanding of how far apart — or close together — all of your tests are.
2. Make checklists of what is on each exam
Break down each of your exams by the topics, chapters, or concepts that will be covered. Is your test cumulative? Just the most recent material? Make a to-do list of each chapter so that you don't let yourself skip anything.
3. Find the study environment most comfortable for you
My best study spot is normally sitting in my bed because I know it's generally quiet and I can spread out and be comfortable. For others, the second they sit in bed to study they'd pass out. Before finals start, figure out your top study spot so that when it comes time to actually study you know right where to go.
4. Don't forget the essentials
When you go out to study, make sure that you have everything you need with you to study for as long as you need. If you forget something, like your laptop charger or a snack, you'll take a break from studying to get those items and chances are you won't want to start back up studying.
5. Different exams need different study strategies
Some exams require reading through all of the chapters covered. Others need you to have a large flashcard deck to memorize a bunch of terms and definitions. Even others are math-based and need you to do numerous practice problems. Figure out what is expected for each exam so you don't waste any time studying something not needed.
6. Don't be afraid to look for help
No one expects you to be an expert on everything, especially if it's a class that might not necessarily be for your major or really any class you have that might be a little more difficult. My university offers tutoring resources for all students or you can look for any friend or peer who may have previously taken the course that may be able to assist you.
7. Try to cover all your bases
Finals can be an overwhelming time because unlike during the main chunk of the semester, when all your exams may be spread out a little more, finals season may throw you exams back to back. When studying, try to not focus on one exam for too long, but it may be more helpful, less distracting, and possibly less boring if you divide your time up among exams and dedicate an hour or so at a time to separate exams.
8. Go in with a positive mindset
Day of, walk into the exam with your best state of mind possible. If you're worried or negative or anything of that nature, it will likely negatively affect your performance on the exam and hurt you. Even if you don't think you know everything, go into the test acknowledging all of the concepts you do understand, rather than overthinking what you might've missed.
9. If needed, calculate the test grade you need for the final grade you want
Depending on your performance in the class that semester, you may have a specific letter grade in mind that you want to walk away with. Prior to the exam, calculate what you need on the final in each of your classes to get the A or B or whatever you're looking to get. You may be surprised, or not as worried, if you don't need as stellar of a grade to get by. It also may help you when dividing up your precious study hours to different exams.
However, you like to study, good luck on your upcoming finals! Don't worry about the expectations of other people and focus on what makes yourself most proud and happy.