Preparing for final exams

Preparing for Final Exams

When it comes to final exams, there are many steps you can take to be better prepared.



It is important to know the following information because it will help you organize your study time and prepare for the exam:

  • Is the final exam comprehensive or does it just cover the last section of the course? 
  • What date and time is the exam scheduled? Are you able to write it at that time? 
  • Where will you write the exam? If possible, locate the room in advance of writing the exam. Check on transportation or parking facilities so that you can plan to arrive early on exam day. 
  • How much time will you have to write the exam? 
  • Will it be an open or closed book exam? 
  • If your test will be in a testing centre, does the testing centre have any requirements or rules? 



It is best to organize the materials before you study so you don’t miss an important chapter or unit. Do this by: 

  • Writing down the major topics in this study checklist. 
  • Estimating how much time you will need to study each topic. 
  • Organizing study times for each course and topic. Check out this example and use this template. 


Mental Preparation

Keeping a resilient outlook will help you cope with test anxiety. You can prepare mentally before and during an exam. 

  • Before – While you study, work at being able to recall the information, not just recognize it. Picture yourself being able to do this while you are writing an exam. 
  • Plan to do well – Keep a mental picture of yourself succeeding. Visualize yourself doing well on the exam. 
  • Decide ahead of time what you’ll do if you don’t know an answer or start to panic. 



Resist the temptation to cram a whole semester of information into your brain the night before an exam! It is the least effective study strategy. You are liable to be tired the next day and may get terms and concepts confused during the exam. Especially during finals, when it’s common to have multiple tests in a single week, cramming can cause burnoutPlan to study in short sessions, well ahead of the exam, and rest well the night before. 

If you are a “crammer,” consider doing your cramming session the day before the day before an exam. Moderate stress can help you retain/create memory but hinders memory retrieval. Basically, it’s helpful to be a bit stressed while studying, but not while writing the test. But even so, regular study sessions interspersed throughout the semester tend to work better than any type of cramming. 

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