Image Credit: “Despair” by Juliana Coutinho

Final exams are approaching on college campuses around the world. Finals can be stressful, even for the most prepared students. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

Preparing for the Final

  1. Find out what your entire final exam schedule is so that you’ll know how many finals you will have on each day.
  2. Prepare a written schedule for yourself indicating when you will study for each test. Leave some time in your schedule for exercise and relaxation, too.
  3. If the professor offers a study guide, use it.
  4. If the professor offers a review session for the exam, go to it.
  5. If you study well in groups, form a study group.
  6. Know if the final is comprehensive (covering everything since the beginning of the semester or quarter).
  7. Find out what kind of exam it will be. You’d study differently for a multiple-choice (Scantron) final than an essay (blue book) one.
  8. If the final will be taken online, find out if you have to go to a specific computer lab on campus at a specific time, or if you’ll be allowed to take the final on your own computer. Also find out how many chances you will have to take the final. Assume it’s just one chance unless you hear differently from the professor.
  9. If you have your previous exams available, scour the exams for things that you think will be on the final.
  10. Flag your notes by highlighting or using Post-It notes.
  11. Don’t pull an all-nighter. (Though some people are successful with studying all night and then taking a test with no sleep, I wouldn’t recommend you try it for the first time on a final exam.)
  12. Calculate your grades in the class. Determine what score you will need to get the grade you’re hoping for in the class. You may discover that you can’t possibly get an A, no matter how well you do on the final, but to get a B, you only need to get a few questions right.
  13. If you’re an auditory learner, record yourself reading your notes aloud, then play the recording back several times.
  14. If the exam is an open-book exam, this does not mean that you don’t have to study at all. In fact, one of the most challenging exams I ever took as an undergrad was an open-book essay exam. Flag your textbook based on where you believe the questions will come from.
  15. Consider using one of the available smartphone apps to help you prepare for your final.
  16. Create a detailed Final Exam Battle Plan.

On the Day of the Final

  1. Feed your brain. Eat a meal and drink at least two bottles of water.
  2. Don’t overdo it with the caffeine. You want to be alert but not jittery. If you’ve never tried an energy drink before, the day of an important final is not a good first time.
  3. Are food and drinks allowed in the classroom where your final will be? Sometimes, the rules are different for exam days than other days. If you can have food with you, choose things that will not disrupt other students.
  4. Know what to bring with you to the final. Do you need a blue book? A Scantron? (And if you need a Scantron, which specific type do you need?) A pencil? A pen? When in doubt, overpack.
  5. Even if you don’t usually wear a watch, take one with you to the final. It’s unlikely you will be able to look at your cell phone to check the time during the final.

During the Final

  1. For a paper-based exam, read through the entire final exam before you start answering any questions at all. This way, you will know what you’re facing.
  2. If the final is an online exam, find out if you can revisit questions, or if after you click past a question you cannot go back to it again.
  3. If you’re using a Scantron and you skip a question to finish later, make sure you’re answering your questions next to the correct answers. (When I took my GRE to get into grad school, I skipped a question on the first page of the booklet, but never skipped a number on the Scantron. When I realized it, I only had 10 minutes to go back and put the answers with the correct questions. Talk about stress!)
  4. Keep a close eye on the time you have allotted.
  5. Some students benefit from answering the most difficult questions first, while others do better completing all the easier ones. Do what works for you.

After the Final

  1. Do not share with other students what was on the final exam. In most universities, this is a violation of the honor code.
  2. Take a breath, relax, then forge ahead to the next final.

Now it’s your turn: What final exam tips do you have to share? Please let us know through your comments below.




29 Responses to 28 Tips for Studying for Final Exams

  1. traewilson87 says:

    I will be trying these steps for my college exams in the near future. When you are eating in the morning I would say eat eggs because I have always had success when I have eggs for breakfast on the day of test. Another theory I have seen people do is sleep when their notes underneath their pillow. I do not know personally if that works just a suggestion.

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  3. tony tomy says:

    thanks for sharing.Decide on an area to study in (even just a corner of your room), and don’t do anything else there. This’ll make it easier to avoid procrastinating. Make it a clean, well-lit, comfortable space so you’re not constantly getting up and walking away.

  4. jayashree says:

    it is very usefull

  5. […] when it comes to prepping for exams, there are plenty of tricks you can use. Check out this post by Barbara Nixon at Public Relations Matter for the ultimate list of exam study tips that you can use year […]

  6. moni says:

    nice Tips

  7. kayc says:

    before you write in that final exam room you need to pray to God

  8. rorng says:

    nice for this tips,,,pray, hardworking with faith your self.

  9. venessa says:

    i will try this tips in myfinal exam and wil tel you more about it later how it works they seems to be interesting course i have a problem wth studying

  10. Brea says:

    A good trick is to NOT go over notes right before the exam. Is your test in thirty minutes or less? Just relax, let your mind take a rest, this will actually improve your memory (especially if you studied that morning or the night before). Seriously, when you’re sitting in class, nervously waiting for the professor to arrive, just sit back and relax, it’ll help the brain.

  11. George Salis says:

    Here is a video my university made, hope it helps:

  12. […] Get a good night’s sleep. Your performance will be hindered by an inability to focus if you are tired or hungry. […]

  13. Ramesh Karthick says:

    very nice of you barbara

  14. sai harini says:

    nice tips

  15. Ashwin says:

    Do not panic on the day of exam…. whether yo studied or not….. just tune yourself to the exam hall with confidence……

  16. Rebecca Wells says:

    If your teacher doesn’t offer a study guide or you just need help studying, you can go to, make an account with the website for free, and you can type your notes into the website. The website will generate tests for you and you can tell the test generator how many questions and of what kind: multiple choice, true false, and fill in the blank.

  17. carolina says:

    i am in 7th grade and my semesters start in three days starting with literature. I do not live in an english speaking country but i do attend an american school. I found these tips very helpful but aimed more on college students.

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  19. theswini says:

    I want to get good marks in my examination.I also want my parents to be happy and make my teachers happy too.I hope I get good results.

  20. ttfjukhg says:

    this was every helpful!!! 🙂

  21. nemutudi rotshidzwa says:

    also have an hour of resting after studing

  22. Anagha says:

    thankyou so much for helping me through these 26 tips
    its really wonderful

  23. good says:

    nice and intresting

  24. rachel says:

    i think that these tips are very helpful i would use them in the future and even on my final next week. 🙂

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  26. s rekha says:

    nice and effective tips

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