/ Academic Success Center

De-Cram Your Exams Resources

Congratulations! Your semester is nearly done! To help you finish strong, we have compiled some key resources to assist you in your preparation for final exam week.

Final Exam Schedule

  • Create a succinct list, including dates, times and materials needed, for all your finals/ papers/projects: Final Exam Schedule and Information (view example)
  • Prepare in advance. Don't wait until final exam week to start "cramming" in all sorts of new information. Ideally, finals are a time to review previously learned material, not a time to learn new material.

Conquering Finals

  • Study time — Utilize the hours of the day when you are most efficient!.
  • Schedule study breaks. Set realistic goals (e.g., “I will study for two hours and take a 10 minute break,” instead of, ”I will study for six hours and not take any breaks.”) To eliminate procrastination, try using the Pomodoro technique. 
  • Avoid studying for two similar courses consecutively. Break up similar courses with a different course (e.g., biology, English, chemistry).
  • Detach from the “panic mania” around you. Being around panicky and nervous people will only enhance your own sense of anxiety.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise daily.
  • The night(s) before:
    • Avoid late hours/the temptation to stay up all night.
    • Calmly review your material and be sure to get a good night's sleep.
    • Refrain from excessive use of caffeine or sleep/wake medications.
  • Relax for the half-hour before the test.
  • Take a break between your exams, when your schedule permits. Unwind a bit.

Organizing Your Study Time

  • Make a master End of Semester Plan (view example) — A “To Do” list of studying and end-of-semester preparations. Include academic work like papers, projects, finals, social obligations, and any moving tasks.
  • Break master plan into a Comprehensive Study Plan for Each Class (view example). Consider:
    • What will each final cover? (cumulative v. specific chapters)
    • What percent of my final grade is based on the final exam?
    • What priority is this course, relative to other courses I am taking?
    • How am I already doing in this course?
    • Have I finished all of the reading and/or assignments?
    • Do I have all of my lecture notes? Are they organized?
    • How much time will it take to cover this material?
  • Break up material into smaller sections.
  • Determine how much time it will take to review the material. (Be sure to include time to review/condense text and notes.)
  • If there is too much material to cover well, try to determine what will be the most important material and concentrate on these areas.
  • Plan an End of Semester Weekly Schedule (view example)
    • Plot study periods from now until the final for each class.
    • To prevent burnout, optimal study periods include 50–60 minutes of study time with 10-minute breaks between where you can review and self-test.
    • Allow longer study periods for grasping larger concepts and forming relationships among facts and concepts.
    • Pick a place to study that is comfortable and has minimal distractions (e.g., well lit, quiet, warm, etc.).
    • Be aware of your biological clock and use this information to determine your optimal study times.
    • Take breaks after putting in study time.
    • Try not to disrupt your normal routines; allow time for a balance of your normal activities (e.g., exercise, sleep, eating, social).

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