Finals are finally approaching!

Quote and picture of panther; tips for finalsThink back on the first day of the semester when you thought to yourself “Whew…16 weeks is a long time from now!”  And then – fast forward! – here you are today still going strong and getting ready for finals week!

So why is it that many students dread the arrival of finals week?  Regardless of what you may have heard, finals week was not created to inflict punishment on students nor was it intended to cause great anxiety.  Finals week is a way for you to show each of your professors that you have paid attention the entire semester, that you took your studies seriously, that you understood the class discussions, and that you deserve that passing grade because you are prepared for the exam!

So, with that said, gather your textbooks, lecture notes, and previous exams so that you can start preparing NOW for finals.  And, once finals are over, you can sit back and relax (for a good solid month!) before the start of the next semester!

Below are some tips and strategies on how to survive finals week…and to do your best!

1.  Review, review, review, and then review some more!  Hopefully, by this point, you have been studying throughout the semester in preparation for your final exams.  Here’s some advice:  don’t try to learn an entire semester’s worth of information the night before finals week because that will likely cause stress!  Throughout the semester, everything that you have learned, read, and discussed in class was meant to prepare you for the big day.  Cramming or pulling an all-nighter is not the best way to prepare for any exam, especially for your finals!

2.  Know how the final exam can impact your grade.  Although every final exam is important, your professors may weigh the final exam differently from one class to another.  For example, if a final exam is worth 25% of your overall grade, try to calculate what score you will need to maintain your current grade or to improve it.  Also, know what kind of final exam you will be taking.  Mostly likely, you will be writing an in-class essay in English, but your College Success class may require a presentation or project.

3.  Take care of yourself.  This is not the time that you want to get sick and miss your final exams.  Studying will take up a majority of your time, but it is still important to get enough sleep, to eat healthy, and to take small breaks in between studying as needed.

4.  Great!  You made it to class with a minute to spare and then you realize that the entire room is dark, empty, and cold.  Turns out, you MISSED your exam!  Before finals week, make sure that you know the correct day and time that each of your classes will be meeting.  Then, once you get that information, double check it!  Unfortunately, no one is going to call you the night before each exam to make sure that you are going to show up.

5.  Great!  You made it to class with a minute to spare and the entire room is bursting with enthusiastic students ready for the exam.  Your professor takes roll, answers a few questions, and then instructs everyone to take out their #882-E scantron and large-format greenbook.

Huh????

Make sure that you arrive to each class prepared with the materials that you need to complete the final exam.  Your professor will let you know what you need and then it is your responsibility to follow through with the instructions.   And, don’t count on the classmate next to you having any extra supplies.  Most likely, that student doesn’t have any…and neither will your professor!

6.  Arrive to the final exam hydrated and nourished.  It’s not a good idea to try to work on math problems while sipping hot coffee and eating a breakfast croissant.  The last thing that you want to do is turn in your final exam with a huge grease stain or to submit an incomplete exam because you were trying to nurse an upset tummy when time ran out!

7.  Stay calm!  Wipe the bead of sweat off of your forehead, sit up straight, and relax.  If you start to get nervous, it will be important for you to find a way to calm yourself so that you can focus.  This may mean that you stop for a minute to breath, to count, to close your eyes, to stretch your arms, or to tell yourself that you know what you are doing.  Whatever it is that you need to do, make sure that you are not distracting other students and that you don’t leave the classroom!

8.  Read the instructions carefully.  So, you skim through the exam and panic because you have only 2 hours to write 20 short essays.  Is that even possible…or even required???  Don’t just dive into the exam…make sure that you read the instructions carefully.  Maybe what is instructed on the exam is to pick 5 out of the 20 questions and to respond with a short essay.  Now that sounds more doable, right?

9.  No cheating!  Not only will you automatically fail the final exam, but you will most likely fail the class and then possibly be expelled from the college.  Cheating is not tolerated at SCC – or at any college – and you don’t want to jeopardize your education because you copied from another student or hid notes under your exam.  If you don’t know an answer to a question, skip it for now and then move on to the next one.  Then, go back to that question when you have time or when you have completed the other questions.

and lastly…

10.  Before you turn in your exam, give it one last review to make sure that you have completed everything.  Sometimes students will miss half of the exam because they didn’t turn the page over to read the other side!  Save a few minutes before class ends to glance over your exam and, when you finally turn it in, give yourself a pat on the back!

Good luck with finals week!

NOTE:  Don’t forget to read the “study skills” section for more tips and strategies!