Preparing for Finals

Time Management and Organization

  • Start early: Space out your preparation over 2-3 weeks. Give yourself more time to study for your hardest classes. Set phone alerts to remind yourself of study periods
  • Prioritize! Consider studying in this order: a) definitely b) probably c) might be on the final
  • Don’t cram: Study in 30-50-minute increments and give yourself 5-10-minute breaks. If you distribute your learning over time, you will retain more in the long term
  • Assemble materials so that you can quickly access them. If you have an open-book exam, consider using sticky-note tabs with keywords

Preparation and Studying

  • Contact your professors: Ask them questions about exam dates, platform, or unclear concepts
  • Strategize: Create your own study guides, attend review sessions, and/or organize a socially distanced, group study session. Be sure to use your textbook, class notes, and any supplemental materials to study
  • Take action with the text! Use one (or more) of these options:
    • Make up your own questions about the text
    • Answer questions: your own questions, chapter questions
    • Put it into your own words: write a summary/annotate, or discuss it out loud with someone else
    • Make an organizational chart or Venn diagram
    • Review your notes and annotations: clarify and adjust as needed

Day of the exam

  • Tech: Make sure your device is charged and ready. Shut down any programs, notifications, and windows you don’t need. Be aware of the requirements of your testing platform. (Are you using the correct browser? Do you have to “save”, “upload”, or “submit”?) Be prepared for technical issues - contact your professor right away, with screenshots if possible
  • Environment: Make sure your space is comfortable and as non-distracting as possible
  • Be aware of time limits. Start by answering questions you know and work your way to the harder questions. Don’t second-guess yourself…don’t change your test answers unless you can pinpoint the reason for the change

And remember….

  • Take care of yourself: Rest, eat well, stay hydrated, get outside, and exercise
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed: Just get started. You can build momentum by committing to working only for five minutes. Continuing will be easier once you have a sense of accomplishment
  • Refocus and return: If you find yourself unable to stay focused, take a break. Stepping away from your screen or your books for a few minutes can help you get back on track


  • Consider using The Learning Center for help with courses, studying, test-taking and time management