5 Final Exam Tips for College Students

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You've studied, prepped, practiced, and perspired, and today is the big day: your final exam. Ever wonder why some students score really well on their final exams, no matter what sort of finals they're taking? Do they have the inside scoop on being a good test-taker? Have you thought about how well you study for your final exams, but always seem to lose steam halfway through and bomb the ends? Well, here are some final exam tips for your college students. These tips are dedicated to the actual testing experience, not the study session prior. Why? For the sole purpose of helping you score your best on those killer exams that can be worth half, or even more than half, your grade.

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Fuel Your Body

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It's just science. A car does not run on an empty tank, and your brain will not function well without adequate nutrition. What you put into your body directly affects the output. Energy drinks can leave you zinging during the first hour, but cause a crash through hours two and three. Going into an exam on an empty stomach can give you a pounding headache and pangs that can distract you from the task at hand.

Fuel your body with appropriate brain food the night before and day of the exam. And don't forget to bring a bottle of water with you and a healthy, satisfying snack to keep your stamina going throughout the test, too. Final exams can be long, and you don't want hunger or fatigue making you end your exam before you're really finished.

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Arrive Early to Chat

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You know what? The other students in your college classes have probably prepared pretty well for your final, too. Practice this final exam tip: Get to class early on final's day, park your book bag in your favorite spot, and then go find some people to chat with. Ask them what they think the hardest/most important questions will be, and whether or not they really understood chapter so and so. Pick their brains. Quiz one another. Ask them important dates, formulas, theories, and figures from your studies. You may pick up a tidbit of information prior to the exam that you missed in your own studies, which could be the difference between being rounded up and rounded down on the grading curve.

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Pace Yourself


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Sometimes, final exams can last three hours. Some are even longer. Sure, some are not quite as lengthy, but often, when the final exam score constitutes a large portion of your grade for the class, you can count on your final being very time-consuming. Most students head into their final with both barrels loaded, feverishly shooting down every question as they stumble upon it.

This is a lousy idea. Pace yourself.

Take a few minutes to glance through your test. Decide the best course of action according to what you know. It's always better to get the easiest points first, so you may find out that you want to start at the end and move backward. Or, you might determine that you know more about the middle section of the test than anything else, so you'll start there to boost your confidence. Take a few moments to plan your strategy and pace yourself so you're not out of ammunition when the last hour rolls around.

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Stay Focused

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It's really difficult to stay focused on a grueling task, especially if you're not particularly interested in the topic or if you struggle with ADD. If you're prone to mind wandering, dozing, or drifting during testing, offer yourself some sort of mini reward when you stay focused.

For instance, give yourself 30-second breaks in between test sections. Or, pop a tart candy or a stick of minty gum into your mouth to spice up the testing experience if you make it past 30 solid minutes of focused testing time.

Another idea is to give yourself tiny rewards, like a casual stretch, a trip to the pencil sharpener, or a handful of those almonds you stashed in your backpack after you focus through the end of a page. Stay focused in small increments, that way you're not overwhelmed by an hours-long final exam, and hurry through it so you can just be done.

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Review, Review, Review Your Work

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One of the most difficult final exam tips to get students to adopt is the review at the end, and it's the most important. It's natural for fatigue to set in; you want to get out of your chair, drop off your test and celebrate with your friends. But, you need to take a solid 10 minutes at the end of your test to review your work. Yes, go back through your questions – all of them. Make sure you haven't bubbled incorrectly on a multiple-choice exam and that your essay is clear, concise, and legible.

Use that time to substitute a precise word for the mediocre one you chose in the short answer section. Try to see your test through your professor or TA's eyes. What did you miss? Which answers aren't comprehensible? Are you trusting your gut? Chances are good you're going to find something and that little error can be the difference between your 4.0 or not.

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "5 Final Exam Tips for College Students." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/final-exam-tips-for-college-students-3212079. Roell, Kelly. (2023, April 5). 5 Final Exam Tips for College Students. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/final-exam-tips-for-college-students-3212079 Roell, Kelly. "5 Final Exam Tips for College Students." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/final-exam-tips-for-college-students-3212079 (accessed June 6, 2023).