Final exams tend create stress levels that US Army Drill Sergeants would proudly own. Final exams tend to be cumulative. This tends to mean final exams are hard, not just something you can cram for at the last minute and pass. Which again tends to mean they get stressful.
I once heard a story about four friends who stayed out too late one night and overslept their final exam. Oops.
They told their instructor they had a flat tire on their way in, which is why they missed the final exam. He bought it apparently. He told them they could come in and take a make up test. In fact, he said that there would only be one question on the test, and that question would be worth 100% of their grade.
What a deal, right? So the four friends show up to take the final exam (didn’t miss it this time), open up the test, and read their one question: “Which tire was it?”
Talk about a stressful final exam.
On a more serious note, what the best way to get prepared for final exams? This may blow your mind (or it may not. It’s pretty simple):
Creating your own study guide is the best way to get prepared for final exams
Far and away, this is the most important strategy. Nothing helps you organize and review ideas the way making your own study guide does. Sure, it’s simple. But here are a few helpful tips that may make this easy for you.
1. Don’t go back to the book if you can help it.
This final exam study guide should be created from your notes and homework assignments. As you review material, you re-group it and create a new guide that focuses on the most important ideas. Going back to the book isn’t as helpful as going to your notes (assuming you’ve been taking notes).
If you haven’t taken notes throughout the semester, though, creating a study guide from textbook chapters is still effective.
2. Don’t just copy someone else’s final exam study guide
It does not work the same way if you just borrow someone’s sheet and copy it.
Now, we know this goes against a lot of common sense. Just copying a review sheet from the smartest kid in school, though, won’t be nearly as helpful as it sounds. You really don’t have an advantage.
Sure, it’s fine to check a person’s study guide if you’d like to see how you’re doing comparatively. But making your own — the process of learning it on your own — will make your review time that much better.
3. Make your final exam study guide before you get one from your instructor
Again, this may not make sense. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s helpful.
After you’ve made your own study guide, you can compare it with what your teacher gave you. The places where you differ give you some super specific areas for studying. Make your guide first, but then make sure you correct it by your teachers’ guides.
This is a simple strategy, but if you make a guide before every test, you’ll find that you’re much more prepared than you initially expected. For more tips on studying for final exams, check out “The Essential Student Handbook to Studying for Finals.” We’d also love to hear your input below in the comments — would you call a study guide the most helpful tool for you?