A 1-2-3 study guide to making final exams a breeze

Katy Bentar, Wilkes University

Katy Bentar is the Director of University College’s Learning Center.

Some useful exam study tips to make the end of your semester successful.

1. Time Management

Time Management is one of the most critical factors that influences student success. Some positive time management strategies include setting regular study periods, studying in an environment free of distractions and scheduling tasks so they can be accomplished in 30 to 60 minute blocks of time.

Taking short breaks in between study sessions helps to keep you motivated and may allow you to concentrate longer. It is also important to alternate subjects when you have longer blocks available to study. Students benefit when they can work ahead of assignments to avoid procrastinating at the last minute.

Consider studying the course you dislike or have the most difficulty with first- leave the best for last. It is also important to use a combination of semester, weekly and daily planners to keep you focused.

2. Develop a Study Plan

The secret to performing well on exams is starting early and using short, frequent study sessions. One technique is to use the Five Day Plan (although some exams may require more time to prepare). This includes spacing out your studying over 5 days and during each day you prepare a new chapter or chunk of information. This is always followed up with a review of the previous information. 

Active learning strategies (flash cards, practice questions, visual diagrams, tables, etc.) are used to study the material and self-testing techniques are used to monitor your learning.

3. Use Active Learning Strategies

Some active learning strategies include creating mind maps, review sheets/study guides, diagrams and charts/tables that help to condense volume of notes. Mnemonics are useful because they make information meaningful through the use of rhymes, patterns and associations.

Other keys to remembering include writing down the main ideas from your notes, reciting your notes aloud and reviewing notes from the previous class just before the next class. As a general rule, students should spend a minimum of 2 hours studying for every hour that they are in class during the week.

4. Managing Stress

Managing stress includes eliminating avoidable stress, improving your attitude, and following a healthy routine. One of the major causes of avoidable stress is procrastination.

Some ways to avoid procrastination are to keep a “to do” list of everything that needs to be completed, step back and check your progress from time to time, never wait empty handed (review notes in between classes), and try to visualize success or completion of a goal, project, or paper.

As a student, you can improve your attitude by taking control of the way you view your classes, assignments, and exams; this means viewing them as choices instead of obligations.

The third way to manage stress involves following a healthy routine which includes getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, and finding time to exercise.

5. Seek out Academic Support Services

The University College Academic Support Program provides comprehensive academic support services where students engage in active learning, reflection, and collaboration through supports that teach foundational skills and strategies.  Services include individual and small group tutoring, supplemental instruction (SI), and academic counseling and coaching.

Students can contact Dr. Alberto Prado, Academic Coordinator, for information related to tutoring and Ms. Katy Betnar, Director of University College Learning Center, for information related to individualized study skills sessions. Individual tutoring appointments can be scheduled via http://tutortrac.wilkes.edu.