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Tips for final exams

November 25, 2019 — 

Final exams are fast approaching and now is the time to start preparing. Plan out your study time, take care of yourself and put your best foot forward. When it comes to exam period, remember that what you do both inside and outside of the exam room counts.


  • Review your exam schedule. Schedules are now available by visiting Exam Schedules. If you are a student on the Bannatyne campus, visit your college office for your exam schedule. Don’t forget that you have to remain available until all of your exams have been fulfilled, so don’t book holiday plans until you know when your exams will be complete. Exam conflicts, if any, should be reported as soon as possible to the Registrar’s Office.


Many students feel stressed around exam time so think about what you can do to address your worries before they spiral out of control. Here are some steps to take:

  • Educate yourself on UM exam policies. Be aware that anything you do which gives you or another student an unfair advantage makes the conditions unfair for everyone else. Review the policies here.
  • Know what counts. Keep in mind that, according to Section 2.5 of the Student Discipline Bylaw, exam cheating is “…the purposeful circumventing of fair testing procedures. Such acts may be premeditated/planned or may be unintentional or opportunistic.” Examples of cheating include letting another student look at your exam, helping a friend on an exam, using a cell phone during an exam, or continuing to write an exam once the time has elapsed. Make sure you are clear on what materials are unauthorized during an exam. Visit the Academic Integrity website to learn more.
  • Take care of yourself. Sleep, eat and exercise. A short walk is often all you need to feel recharged and can have great stress reducing benefits. Eat balanced meals, get the rest you need, and stay physically active. 
  • Get support. 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. Make time to connect with family and friends or consider using one of several apps that have been developed for exam anxiety. If talking to someone else would be more helpful for you, the Student Counselling Centre has several drop-in workshops on mindfulness and managing negative emotions and stress. You can also phone or drop by to arrange an appointment with a counsellor.
    If you have a hearing, vision or learning disability, are struggling with mental health or have a temporary or permanent physical health concern, Student Accessibility Services may be able to assist you with exam accommodations. Reach out to Accessibility Services as early as you can because 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.
  • Be proactive. If you are struggling in a course, the best way to avoid potential issues is to get help before they become a big problem. Your first step should be to visit your professor or teaching assistant during their office hours. These hours are specifically set aside to help students like you. You can also get one-to-one help and other learning supports through the Academic Learning Centre.


Sometimes you just don’t know where to start. Use these pointers to help organize your study time so you can be as productive as possible.

  • Organize essential test materials such as readings, notes taken in class, assignment questions, practice questions and homework.
  • Create a plan and pay close attention to areas that you don’t know or don’t understand, but keep in mind it’s important to also review material you know.
  • Take breaks. regular, 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 is a waste of time. Re-organize and chunk information for best results.
  • Create a “cheat” sheet that summarizes all the essential information for that course. Then use that sheet for review. Creating this sheet not only reminds you of information you need to know, but also requires you to test yourself on concepts, formulae, definitions, etc.
  • Don’t just memorize. Understanding will ensure that you retain that material.
  • Mix it up. Study in different places for a change of pace and scenery. It also doesn’t hurt to alternate your topics when you study. Although it may not feel like it initially, shifting gears will sometimes aid learning.


Exams can be a stressful time in your life, getting through a stressful time is all about balance. The University has many resources to support your success and has put together a number of student support events to help reduce stress and take a break for some self-care. 


On the day of the exam, make sure you pack your ID. Students must present photo identification at all exams. Bring your student ID card (preferred) or another piece of photo identification with you and place it on top of your table before starting your exam.

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