The end of the semester is near, and you know what that means: finals week. If you’re a freshman, these will be your first final exams at UF. It can be a long, strenuous week prefaced by weeks of vigorous studying. But knowing what to expect can make all the difference. Here are tips to guide you through a successful finals week:
1. Do the practice tests. Every. Single. One. Most professors provide multiple sample tests from previous semesters. Use them. These practice exams will give you insight into your professor’s test-making strategy, the kinds of questions that will be asked and which material to focus on while studying. You’re almost certain to improve your grade by devoting time to these tests. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste.
2. Go to the final review. Many professors will have a class period set aside for a final review. The review day will be optional, but you should still go. Take advantage of every resource your professor or TA provides for studying. After all, they create the material and know what you should study. If no review class is offered, they’re always available during office hours to answer questions. Use the resources that are available to you.
3. Don’t wait until the last minute. It’s tempting to put off studying until three days prior to exams but don’t. Studying in smaller chunks weeks prior to your exam will make for a much less stressful week. Not to mention that cramming makes it much harder to retain the information you’ll need to make a decent grade. Resist the temptation, and make a study schedule ahead of time. Your exam grades will reflect the effort, and you’ll be happy you did in the long run.
4. Use study techniques that work for you. Many students believe studying in groups will always provide an advantage around exams, but this isn’t always the case. If you usually prefer to study alone, you don’t have to alter your study habits. Different studying methods work better for different people. Know what works for you and stick to it.
5. Don’t be late for your exam. As a senior, I’ve seen one too many students walk in late and be refused the final. Find your exam classroom ahead of time, and plan to show up 10 minutes early. You don’t want to risk getting a zero on your final due to bad traffic or getting lost on campus. Know where to go, make preparations to get there, and don’t be late.
6. Skim the exam before starting. Before you begin answering questions, review the test to find out how many questions are asked, how many are multiple choice or short answer, how much each is worth, etc. Develop a plan before you begin for how long you plan to spend on each question. Try to follow that plan. Don’t waste too much time on a single question.
7. Don’t worry about others finishing earlier than you. During your final, some students are bound to turn in their tests 20 minutes after start time. Don’t let that bother you. Take the time you need to complete your exam to the best of your ability, even if that means you take every second allowed. Take a deep breath, and let your hard work and preparation show.
It's been a great semester! We'll see you in the Spring!