Final exams season is approaching, which means it’s time to dust off those highlighters, whip out those note-cards, and get down to business! You might already have a study routine in place. But if this time of year leaves you floundering, here are some tips on how to survive your final exams.
A note before we begin: I am writing this with high school students in mind, but a lot of these apply to any grade level. Use these as you find them helpful.
Fine-Tune Your Final Exams Schedule
Most schools allow students to push an exam to the “make-up day” if a student has 3 exams on any day during finals. Why does this matter? Well, a few days of extra study can mean improved transcripts that last forever! Therefore, it’s worth looking into whether your school offers this option. If a student is struggling in a class, moving their exam day gives them more time to prepare and less reason to stress. Teachers don’t always know this is an option. At least a week ahead, seek your counselor’s assistance to reschedule the exam.
Don’t let final exams blow your grade! You knew the material a few weeks or months ago. Sure, it’s a lot to study, but you do not have to learn it— you just have to remember it. Many kids underestimate time needed to review and prepare for finals and overestimate their ability to recall info/skills on the final. Over-prepare so you do not ruin an entire semester’s worth of hard work.
Start by reviewing content and skills that were your weaknesses during the semester. To do this, identify your lowest test grade of the semester. That’s probably the material you need to study most. Another starting point may be the teacher’s study guide. However, don’t begin by filling out what you already know; it’s a waste of time. Instead, fill out what you don’t know. Knock out that hard stuff first. Plus, writing it down will help you remember it better. If you have time after this step, go back and fill in the parts you do know.
Take Advantage of Reviews
Attend all teacher reviews. Teachers sometimes offer review sessions before or after school. Attendees are often small groups of motivated learners. These peers are intense about learning, so time will not be wasted with classroom management or low-level questions. Some good study habits might rub off on you. Plus, teachers teach to the test during their reviews, so you get insider information about what will be on the tests based on what the teacher chooses to review.
A’s are mathematically hard to keep. To earn an A in a class, you must usually earn an A on the final. With some hard work and determination, you can do this.
If you have a solid C, you have a shot at earning a B for the semester. Yes, this will also be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. Colleges look at transcripts, especially when considering scholarships. Even if you’re a freshman or sophomore, it’s important to start high school with strong grades. Think about your long-term future.
It helps to calculate what grade you need on the final days or weeks before finals begin. Then budget your time accordingly. If you have all Bs but one is at the cusp of a C (81%), then you need to spend time and effort preparing for that class more so than for other tests. If you have 87% in a class, you probably cannot get an A. You do have to study for the final, but focus more on staying in that B range, i.e. above 81%.
For help on figuring out what grade you need on final exams, check out our Final Grade Calculator.
Schedule Tutoring With Time to Spare
Seeking tutoring the weeks before finals makes sense, but don’t wait to try to schedule tutoring. Tutors are most busy the weeks before finals, so they might not have availability by the time you figure out you need help. Tutoring the day before the exam is not good because if a student finds a hole in understanding, there is no time to fix it.
Here’s a rule-of-thumb: it takes about 2 hours to briefly cover a week of schoolwork for one class. That’s just for basic understanding, not full, deep comprehension, memorization, and mastery. Also, this is very generalized and depends on student ability, the difficulty of content, students’ goals and work ethic. Cramming an entire semester’s worth of material into one or two tutoring sessions will not be enough. Adding tutoring to study and practice will help you make the most of your finals presentation.
Try to think ahead. If you use Learning Ascent’s tutoring services, call us or check our site for our availability. Spots are filling up fast, so let us know if you need to come in for some help!