13 Ways to Survive Finals

Alexandra Stassinopoulos, Editor in Chief

  1. Set goals

    Before you start studying, decide which finals you think will be the hardest and the classes in which your grade is in the most jeopardy. For each class, even one that you’re already doing well in, set a goal. Your goal can be to simply pass the final or it can be more specific–like getting an A in the class. Setting goals for yourself is great way to keep yourself motivated while studying.

  2. Find out the format of each final

    Not every subject is tested the same way, so it is extremely possible for your finals to have different formats. For example, most math classes end with a two hundred point multiple choice final, however, sophomore and freshman advanced English classes typically include a speech in at least one semester’s finals. To properly prepare for each final, it is important to know how the material is tested, so knowing as far ahead of time as you can the format of each final will give you an advantage.

  3. Look at old tests and quizzes

    Bridging off of number four, you should make an effort to look at previous tests and quizzes. Since most finals are a comprehensive exam that covers previously tested material, it is a wise idea to look at how your teacher tested you on these subjects previously. Even if your teacher doesn’t release tests, most of them will let you see your old tests after school or during Gael Period if you ask them ahead of time. If not, well, you probably still have your quizzes abd old homework assignments to look over.

  4. Summarize everything for each final

    Once you’ve found out the format of the final and seen your old tests, summarize everything you think/know (some teachers will tell you) what’s on the final. Then, make a list. That way, you’re studying will be far more structured than if you were studying everything (because, frankly, your teacher doesn’t have time to create or grade a test that covers every single topic covered in your class).

  5. Make yourself a to-do list

    After summarizing your material, make a to-do list. Just like you won’t be tested on everything that you’ve learned in a class, you also haven’t forgotten everything you’ve learned in a class. Focus on material that you’ve completely forgotten or on problems that were hard for you the first time you learned them.

  6. Learn any material you missed out on

    We all get sick and we all need sleep. Because of these two things, there may have been material that you simply didn’t learn earlier in the semester. Take the time to learn it now. Or, if you were there, but copied someone’s notes/homework/tests, then go back and spend extra time reviewing it: copying is not the same as actually doing.

  7. Annotate your notes

    When going back and reviewing your notes, it is easy to get bored and fall asleep, especially if it’s late at night. Because of this, it is helpful to annotate, or write smaller notes about your notes, while you read them. Before you freak out and think “Cornell Notes”–wait. Since your teacher will never see your annotations, they can be whatever you want, from helpful questions or subnotes to doodles or silly pictures that (kind of) help you remember the information.

  8. Rewrite material in your own words

    Leading off of number seven, if you’re still struggling with a particularly abstract concept, it helps to rewrite the book’s words in your own. Although this study strategy is similar to annotating your notes, it can be more helpful because you’re actually summarizing the material.

  9. Do practice problems

    In subjects like math, annotating notes doesn’t really work quite as well as subjects such as history. Instead, the best way to review material for your math final is to take out the math book, open it (which I hope you’ve done at least once this year) and do some practice problems. Most math books will have answers for the odd questions, but if for some reason they don’t, then slader.com is a really useful resource to check your answers.

  10. Be picky who you study with

    Finals is not a time to make new friends–fact that is sad but true. Although many people, especially teachers, will tell you to “form study groups” before finals, these often waste more time than they end up saving you. Think about your friend group–is everyone as serious about studying for finals as you are? If not, then don’t make a study group with them because not that much work will get done.

  11. Teach someone your material

    That being said, if you do choose to work with a group, don’t be afraid to ask people questions and don’t dismiss the ones your friends ask you. One of the best ways to check how well you know a certain concept is to try and teach it to one of your friends. If you can do that, then you probably don’t have to worry about remembering it one the final, because you’ll already know it!

  12. Take breaks and eat snacks

    In the middle of all finals studying and stress, you must not forget to stop, take a step back and relax at some point, even if it’s only ten minutes. It can be tempting to try and power through a study session, but it also isn’t the most effective use of your time: UCLA research shows that you’re less likely to remember material when you cram it in a short period of time.

  13. Sleep

    This piece of advice seems obvious, but so many people forget it that I’m going to include it anyway: sleep. The less sleep you get, the less likely you’ll get an A on the final. If you’re anything like me, then the more exhausted you are, the more likely you are to make silly mistakes–like spelling something wrong or forgetting a minus sign–trivial mistakes that lead to lost points on heavily weighted final exams.