Everyone in school has to take them – final exams, that is. But, not everyone knows how to study for final exams, and college is where things get tricky. Exams in college are much different than they are in high school. Likely, in high school, you received a study guide, or an explicit list of information to know for your final exam. In college, you may not get anything at all, so you'll need to study in a very different way. Here are a few tips for how to study for final exams in college. Use them to your very best advantage!
1. Identify the Type of Exam
Some professors or adjuncts will give you an essay exam at the end of the semester. Just think of it – tons and tons of information crammed into a three-hour essay. Sounds fabulous, doesn't it? Some teachers stick strictly to short answer questions, while others will give you a multiple-choice exam or a combination of sorts. I've known profs who have allowed notes, while others have not. It's imperative that you find out the type of exam you'll be receiving and whether or not you'll be able to use your notes. Multiple-choice final exams are a whole different ball of wax than essay final exams, and as such, must be studied for in quite a different way! Ask, if your teacher isn't forthcoming.
2. Divide and Conquer
So, you have a semester's worth of material to remember for the big day. How do you manage to learn it all? Some of the stuff you were taught at the beginning of the first nine weeks has gone right out of your head! Divvy up the material you have to learn according to the number of days prior to the day before the test. (You need an overall review day before the final). Then, divide the material accordingly. If you have fourteen days before the exam, and you want to start studying, then chop the semester into fourteen equal parts and study a section on each day. That way, you won't get overwhelmed with the enormity of the task.
3. Schedule Time
As you know if you're a college student, it's not only important to learn how to study for final exams, it's important to find the time to do it! You're busy – I get that. You have work, and classes, and extracurriculars and sports and fitness and yadda yadda yadda. You must carve out an hour or so a day to fit studying into your schedule. It will not present itself – you'll have to sacrifice some things to get it done. Check out my time management chart and fill in all the responsibilities/appointments/etc. you have for one week and see where you might be able to cut back to make sure you're ready for test day.
4. Learn Your Learning Style
You may be a kinesthetic learner and not even realize it. Take a learning styles quiz and figure it out prior to studying – your solo, sit-at-a-desk study session may not be doing you any favors at all! Or, you might be a group study person. Have you given it a shot? Sometimes, students study the best for final exams with others. Or, maybe you're into studying solo. That's great! But figure out if it's better for you to study with music or without, and choose the best study spot for you - a crowded coffee shop with white noise may be less distracting for you than the library. Everyone is different! In college, it's imperative that you figure out how you learn best, as you'll have little guidance. At this stage of the game, professors assume you know what you're doing. Make sure that you do!
5. Review Session – Yes, Please!
More than likely, your professor or TA will host a review session before the final exam. By all means, attend the darn thing. If you fail to go to this class, then you're really in big trouble! This is "How to study for final exams" 101! In it, you'll learn things like the type of exam it is, what kind of information you'll be expected to showcase, and if it's an essay exam, you'll probably get a selection of topics you may see on test day. Whatever you do, don't miss it!