Final Exams...AAARRGGHHH!!!!

Top 10 Tips for Success

10. Be prepared --- not scared.

Use good review techniques by:

  • Preparing carefully for a final two weeks prior to the exam day.
  • Organize a schedule that doesn’t interfere with regular study for on-going classes.
  • Plan your review systematically by going from main idea to main idea using chapter headings or a term outline as a guide. Go from chapter notes to class notes recalling the important headlines and ideas in each.
  • Make summary notes. Put a sheet over each summary page and slowly uncover the first heading --- see if you can remember the main points under it. As you go, ask yourself: what, when, why, etc.
  • Ask your professor for recommendations for pre-exam work.
  • Group reviews can be helpful, but shouldn’t take the place of studying on your own.
  • Avoid cramming. Don’t plan to learn something new for the first time at the last minute.

9. Manage your time.

  • Know your best hours for studying…morning? night?
  • Control disruptions.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Say “NO” to extras.
  • When studying, take short, rewarding breaks every so often.
  • Make studying more fun with colored gel pens, reading notes out loud, making flashcards, or have a friend quiz you on your material.

8. Stop procrastinating --- no more excuses!

  • Use a planner or calendar to set up study days for finals.
  • Challenge your excuses.
  • You don’t have to be “in the mood” to get things done.
  • Break large assignments down into smaller ones.
  • Action = Motivation = More Action

7. Stay motivated.

  • Set specific and realistic goals for the weeks leading up to and into final exams. Start by studying the easier, more interesting subjects.
  • Establish good habits that are likely to become a routine and easier to maintain.

6. Minimize stress.

  • Take care of yourself during this challenging time by eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting restful sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and high carbohydrate foods while studying. They make you sleepy.
  • Stay in touch with those you care about. Take study breaks to call home or call a close friend.

5. What about test anxiety?

  • No matter what the cause, you can learn to reduce test anxiety.
  • Think positively and confidently.
  • Cast yourself in the role of a winner --- not a loser!
  • Use relaxation techniques:
    • When you feel yourself becoming anxious.
    • To help you sleep the night before an exam.
    • As a refresher between study sessions.

        Here’s one technique:
    • Loosen your clothing and get comfortable.
    • Tighten the muscles in your toes. Hold for a count of 10. Relax and enjoy the sensation from the release of tension.
    • Flex the muscles in your feet. Hold for a count of 10. Relax.
    • Move slowly up through your body --– legs, abdomen, back, neck, face –-- contracting and relaxing muscles as you go.
    • Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • If your mind is blocked by tension during an exam:
    • Close your eyes.
    • Take a long, deep breath.
    • Let it out slowly.
    • Concentrate on your breathing –-- actually feel or hear yourself breathe.
    • Don’t allow yourself to worry about the time, test, or tension.
    • Repeat once, then return to the test.

4. Consider eating high protein food the day of your exam.

  • Food high in carbohydrates causes sleepiness. Protein helps with alertness and focus. Good choices include fish, meat, eggs, soy products, oatmeal, peanuts, and almonds.

3. Thoughts are powerful!

  • Develop some coping thoughts such as:
    • “I can feel anxious and think at the same time."
    • “Take it slowly, one step at a time.”
    • “Tests don’t make me nervous; I make me nervous and I can learn to control my reactions.”
    • “I can ease this anxiety with deep belly breaths.”

2. The real meaning of exams:

  • They are an opportunity to see yourself as a competent student even if you don’t have ALL the answers.
  • There may indeed be others brighter than you. It’s also likely there are others less bright than you. So what? You’re really not in competition with them unless you make it so in your mind. Ultimately, you're in competition only with yourself to achieve goals appropriate to you.
  • You are meant to achieve in this lifetime. Go forward.

1. Be prepared --- not scared!