When you’re staring down the barrel of finals week, you may begin to feel a little panicky. This is normal! And just like everything else, if you plan for it, it makes it less stressful. Here’s a quick checklist to follow for each of your final exams.
What Will The Exam Look Like?
First, find out what kind of exam it is. The type of questions you’re asked will change the way you study – a multiple-choice test is not the same as an essay exam!
Second, identify what you’re going to be tested on. Is the exam cumulative? Is it just the last few units or modules? This matters, because you’ll need to identify what you need to study. Don’t study the whole book if the final is only on chapters 14, 15, and 16.
Third, identify what materials you’ll need to gather in order to study. Do you need the book? Your class notes? Handouts? Worksheets? Whatever you need to study from, make sure you have it ready and organized for your study sessions.
What Tools Will I Need?
Fourth, identify what study tools you’ll need to use or create. Do you already have flash cards? Great! Use them. Do you need to create them? That can be a study session. Do you need to make self-quizzes, or get your study group together? Plan for that.
Fifth, determine how you’ll use your study tools. Are you going to go through a pile of flash cards every day? Are you going to quiz yourself every other day? How often are you going to meet with your study group? Get this all in order.
When Will I Study?
Sixth, schedule your study time so that you are ready to focus when each session comes up. Give yourself enough time in each session so that you can do what you need to do – don’t try to cram it in.
Seventh, check your knowledge before you start to study. This is the opposite of the learn-and-check method that was outlined elsewhere in this blog. Now, you start by finding out what you already know, so that you only have to study what you don’t already know.
How Will I Know I’m Ready?
Last, determine how you’ll know when you’re ready for the exam. One student who had 400 flash cards told me he would be ready when he could get through 375 of them without errors. Another student told me that she would be ready when she could complete ten randomized calculus worksheets (from a generator her teacher pointed them at) with only one error per worksheet. Whatever it is, determine what success looks like before you start.
Tying It All Together
Armed with this checklist, you can own your final exams! Make sure to follow all the steps – and make sure you give yourself enough time to study effectively. Don’t allow yourself to “cram and jam.” You deserve to have the time you need to prepare for your finals and ace them!