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Tips for final exams

Help yourself prepare for final exams – Part one

Study tips and preparing for exams

December 3, 2018 — 

It’s that time of year again. Final exams. Make the most of all your hard work by putting your best foot forward. Plan your study time, take care of your physical and mental health, and get some study tips from the experts. When it comes to exams, what you do both inside and outside of the exam room counts.

Get the most out of your study time

Sometimes you just don’t know where to start. Use these helpful tips to organize your study time and maximize your efforts:

  • Organize essential test materials such as readings, notes taken in class, assignment questions, practice questions and homework.
  • Create a study plan and pay close attention to areas that you don’t know or don’t understand. Keep in mind it’s important to also review material you know.
  • Take breaks regularly. Short breaks are best.
  • Test yourself daily. Use the chapter quizzes, flash cards or create test questions for yourself. Just reading over your notes does not help you learn. Re-copying, unless you are reorganizing and chunking information, is a waste of time.
  • Create a “cheat” sheet that summarizes all the essential information for that course. Then use that sheet for review. This will remind you not only of information you need to know, but also requires you to test yourself on concepts, formulae and definitions.
  • Don’t just memorize. Memorization is important, but when combined with understanding will ensure that you will retain that material.
  • Study in different places for a change of pace and scenery. It also doesn’t hurt to alternate your topics when you study. Shifting gears will sometimes aid learning (although it doesn’t feel like it initially).

For more tips on how to prep for exams, check out the Academic Learning Centre’s handout section online (also see Tests/Exams and Learning & Memory for more information).

Take care of yourself with the supports you need

Do you get nervous, anxious and worry before exams? You’re not alone. Many people experience exam anxiety no matter how hard they study and prepare. Think about what you can do to address your worries before they spiral out of control:

  • A short walk is often all you need to feel recharged and can have great stress reducing benefits;
  • Eat as balanced as you can and get the rest you need;
  • Make time to connect with family and friends; and
  • Consider using one of several apps that have been developed for exam anxiety.

If talking to someone else would be helpful, the Student Counselling Centre (SCC) has several drop-in workshops on mindfulness and managing negative emotions and stress. You can also drop by the SCC to arrange an appointment with a counsellor.

If you have a disability such as hearing, injury-related, learning, mental health, medical, physical, visual or temporary, Student Accessibility Services (SCC) may be able to assist you with exam accommodations. Reach out to Accessibility Services as early as you can as exam accommodations take some time to arrange.

Most important, don’t beat yourself up or be too hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.

Read part two of this series here.

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