Final Exam Tips from Rinella

Final Exam Prep with the Rinella Learning Center
Final Exam Prep with the Rinella Learning Center

How can students most effectively manage the stress of Final Exam week? The Rinella Learning Center has several tips to help students maximize their achievement during Finals Week. Through planning ahead and staying organized, students can alleviate any uncertainty they may feel and position themselves for success!

Knowledge is Power.

Some classes have cumulative exams (exams covering all the material from the entire semester), some  have term exams (exams covering material only from the last test), and some have papers or research projects. Student should investigate which of their classes have exams. They should consider meeting with their professors during office hours, calculate their grades, and check Miami’s official Final Exam Schedule in preparation as well. Generally, exams are about two hours long. Some exams may fall at times that are outside normal class periods. Students may be able to change their schedule either if two or more exam times conflict, or if they have an excessive number of exams in one day.

Study Smarter, Not Harder.

We recommend beginning the study process for final exams about two weeks ahead of time. Equally as important is how the student studies: rather than spending hours the night before a test staying up late and cramming, we recommend periodic 30-45 minute study blocks throughout the two-week period prior to the exam. During those times, students should try to accomplish active learning tasks: writing summaries, working through sample problems, and self-testing (see below). These active-learning tasks facilitate interaction with the new information, rather than simply re-reading or reviewing it. Lastly, it may help to study outside the residence halls. We recommend trying an empty classroom. After all, they will have to take the test in a classroom, so studying in one may help students feel more comfortable in such spaces.

Self-Testing is Key.

When preparing for a test, the most important study tool is testing oneself. Student should try to recreate the test-taking environment as much as possible before the test, as this will lessen anxiety and improve confidence for the test itself. When self-testing, students should try to solve practice problems, write down key concepts from memory, or complete a study guide without help from notes, textbooks, or other resources. After completing the self-testing exercise, students can then refer back to the original resources to see what they got right or wrong. This process helps identify gaps in their knowledge while also reinforcing the information they already know!

Stress Less.

Students who have a lot of anxiety or worry about final exams should consider learning and practicing relaxation techniques, so that they can address that anxiety in a productive way. In addition to relaxation techniques, they can utilize positive self-talk and affirmations to help them feel more empowered.