Studying for finals tips

I graduated California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Cum Laude with my B.S. in Finance, Real Estate and Law. I was a business tutor for three years for core business and math classes. Also, I minored in economics as well as took on additional calculus classes. I am fortunate to have worked part time while attending my university and was involved in the university’s year-long Rose Float program in various leadership positions.

It is that time of the year when you have to take your big test. For every unit of class you were putting in at least two hours of study time a week right? In reality, if you get two full days of studying in you will be fine. Those who slacked a bit may want two more days. The more time you get exposed to the material the greater the chances you will do well on your exam. Typically, I would master the material as the quarter progresses, but for those last minute crammers, these tips might be helpful.
Day 1
• Go over your study guide or the list of things your professor named off that will be 100% on the test. You should have already clarified with your professor which materials are best to study first. Sometimes they can be the PowerPoint lectures, class notes or the textbook. You can organize your thoughts by creating a formula sheet. This is where you can jot down your list of necessary terms or equations. I typically studied my 8.5” x11” sheet of paper covering 10 weeks of material. It would be ideal to start your formula sheets at the beginning of the quarter/semester. You may have taken lecture notes, so you should go over those first to get a good base. I would focus on your weakest areas and review the next day the stuff you already mastered.
Qualitative classes:
• Re-read heavily weighted material that’s on the exam first. Repetition is key. I read one chapter from my law book three times and in the end I got one of the five A’s on the exam.
• When it comes to remembering case studies or studying for a written test, grab a study partner and create diagrams to organize your thoughts. It helps to bounce ideas while learning from one another.
• Either your test is multiple guess/choice or written. If your exam is weighted more on multiple choice questions, try going over the end of the chapter summaries and know the key terms.
• Reading the glossary isn’t a bad idea either. In fact, I set the curve in my class just by reading the glossary a day before the exam.
• If you have a tutor already, you may want to ask them about some study shortcuts or easy ways to improve your memory of the subject.
Quantitative classes:
• Do the problems over and over again. If you are crunched on time and have not yet learned the material for the exam, do your problems with the solutions manual.
• Work on your problems or study guide with your classmates. Don’t be afraid to utilize study sites like When you can show someone how to do something, you’re closer to mastery of that subject. If not, then you’ll learn something beneficial.
• Do extra problems similar to the ones you’ll see on the exam such as the ones at the end of the chapter.
• Understand how to do the problems and work on it as you would on the test. Math may be a bit more challenging, but can be made easy as long as you do your book keeping. This formula is done this way and applies to this kind of a problem. Recognize that there’s a pattern in identifying and solving all your problems.
• Know the formulas and when they are applied to different types of problems by using the formula sheet.
Day 2
• You can continue reviewing your material. It’s important that you are mentally prepared. Try to think of test questions that you might encounter and how long it would take for you to do them on the test. If you are not comfortable with one chapter or a set of problems do them until you’re comfortable.
• Sleep. You remember what you study better with good sleep. Some people pull an all-nighter—that may lead to running late to your exam location—causing you to get sick the next day, in either way would not be the ideal situation.
Even if you feel like you didn’t get enough time to study, you did what you can do. The hardest part is getting started. Once you get into the habit of studying, you may find it quite hard to stop. If you often feel distracted, move to a different studying environment and make it a habit to focus for at least a few hours before taking a break. For those balancing jobs and other things, you may want to spend at least four days breaking up the material into parts. Your schedule for finals week should be studying, breaks, food and more studying. It’s okay not to have a social life during this special period. Take the week before finals off of work to study! It will cause less stress as well. And remember, you can always email your professor any questions you might have. Better yet, visit them at their office hours. Some of them want to give you a better grade for extra effort!
Good luck on finals!

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