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Finals, unfortunately, come with the holiday season. But, they don’t have to be terrifying if you take steps to prepare, and if you follow some simple, time-tested practices. First, you must make a plan. A calendar is an effective tool for listing exam dates and times. This can be accomplished on a paper calendar, on your computer, or smartphone. At least 30 iPhone calendar apps exist, and some are free. Establishing a list of exams will help you organize a study schedule.

Once you know how many exams you will have to take and when the exams will take place, you should make attempts to ask your professors for any information that may help in the studying process. If the professor is not too sadistic, he or she will offer some kind of direction.

  1. What type of test will it be: multiple choice, essay questions, a combination, etc.?
  2. Will the test be comprehensive, covering material from the beginning of the semester?
  3. What subject matter will be on the test?
  4. How much time will students have to complete the test?

When studying for the exams, take breaks every couple of hours. Take a walk or visit with friends. Some students may study more effectively in groups. If you are one of those students, make study dates early-on and keep them. Keep to your study schedule. You will feel more confident and on track.

When exam day comes, breathe. Stick to your usual routines, so that you don’t feel too disconnected.

Tips for taking finals include:

  1. When the test is placed before you, read the entire document. Get a feel for the tone of the test.
  2. Make an assessment, and begin by answering the easy questions first.
  3. When you are finished with the test, look it over again. Stick old adage; do not change answers unless they are obviously wrong. Your first instinct is usually correct.

After each exam, do something nice for yourself such as sitting down with some hot chocolate, or getting into the holiday spirit with a stroll through the local mall. Remember, the holidays will be arriving soon, and the stress you feel today will be a memory! Then, get back to your study schedule. Finals are stressful, but taking measures to organize and to look after your mental health can help alleviate some of the stressful aspects.

-- Written by Beth Calvano, a college English composition instructor at Instructor at Newport Business Institute who regularly uses Turnitin; also pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership.


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