Five tips to help you study and prepare for finals season

By Felipe Tassara

Elm Staff Writer

As the school year ends, finals week looms: the time we all dread and stress over throughout the semester. Stress can stem from the challenge of certain classes or the number of assignments that pile on top of one another.

Many factors add to these worries, but one of the biggest is studying for the exams or prepping for projects. This process takes time and a lot of energy, so with that in mind, here are a few tricks that can help students survive their finals.

Stop by office hours

According to Carson-Newman University, making appointments with your professors will help you in the long run, especially for courses that you might not fully understand.

Office hours are dedicated time for you to speak with professors about challenges you are having with the course material. You can also use this one-on-one time to get a better understanding or discuss readings and class discussions you may have missed throughout the semester.

Know the exam format

Depending on the class, the final exam may consist of multiple choice, short answer, or essay questions. Knowing the format ahead of time can be a game changer as it will affect the way you study, according to Teen Vogue.

Make sure to ask your professor about the exam’s format. If the test is going to be multiple choice, make up one of your tests and quiz yourself. Review the content you know and spend more time focusing on key terms and concepts that you might not fully understand.

If the exam is going to be written, sit back and think about some of the course’s content. Consider what topic your professor could choose for an essay question and practice writing an essay that would answer these potential questions. You could even time yourself to prepare for the actual exam. While this does not guarantee a perfect score, this method does help since you have studied with the exam’s format in mind.

Set a study goal

Before you sit down to study, determine how long you will be working and what tasks you can complete in that time. Setting concrete, achievable goals will guarantee that you do not set your sights too high, but still finish some of your work.   


Color-coding works great in your notes or on a homemade study guide. This visual aid helps highlight the key terms and concepts from the course and can also help with dividing up the section or chapter that you are reviewing into more reasonable study goals.

Color coding notes helps them stay organized. For example, on a study guide, certain terms that could relate to biology or chemistry can be green and the ones that relate to math or English can be red and blue. You can identify which subject they represent, and then the codes can help you remember the definition as the color has an association with that topic.

Breathe and take a break

The final tip is to make sure you know when to stop studying. While studying can help with succeeding in the course and the exam, make sure that you do not go overboard, according to Teen Vogue.

Study in interval sessions rather than studying for two or four hours with no break. Split your study session into 50-minute sessions with 10-minute breaks in between. This way, you study for a little bit and then have some time to get up and move around and do an activity that you like.

To stay on track with the intervals, think about setting a timer so you know when to stop studying and when to start again. Over-studying is an issue, as it cannot only lead to burnout but also confusion and stress.

Remember that exams are tough. However, there are ways that you can reduce the stress that comes along with them by being as prepared as you can.

Take breaks and do not overstudy. When the chance comes, spend time with your friends by either walking downtown to the farmer’s market or letting loose at a party.

These tips hopefully provide you with some tools to help you prepare for finals week, but at the end of the day, you know what works best for you. You might already use some of these tips, but you can also try some new ones and see what works for you.

Photo by Riley Dauber.

Photo Caption: Canvas has an option where you can color-code your classes to make it easier to see which assignments are due for which class.

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