Exams in college are notoriously difficult. But if you’re anything like me, then final exams are a whole new level of pressure. After months of studying hard for your midterms, you have to essentially start from the top and review the entire curriculum. With endless pieces of study materials piling up from the semester, it can be challenging to know where to start but let me tell you a little bit about how I approached studying for final exams.
First step is always content review. Course content “snowballs'' and if you don’t understand the previous week’s material, then it is unlikely you’ll be able to grasp the next week’s material. Throughout the semester I tried to make one page review sheets for every lecture. When finals came around, I used these one pagers and my longer lecture notes to make one giant study guide. This is single handedly the most important part of my study routine! Making the study guide in itself will help you remember the information but it is also critical for the next phase of studying.
Practice! Practice! Practice! Once I've mastered content review, I compiled all of my old homeworks and class examples to really apply the information I had learned. Often you’ll see many of these questions pop up on the exam so it can be very helpful to review them beforehand! Plus you’ll already have the answer so even if you’re stuck, you can try to work backwards.
After you’ve burned through lecture notes and homework, you can test your knowledge with a practice exam! Most professors will give you access to their old exams but if not, you could always check for external exams on the internet! Take the practice exams honestly, which means timed and completely on your own: this is one of the best ways to gauge readiness for the real exam. I remember so many times when it took taking a practice exam to realize that I didn’t fully understand a concept.
Across this entire study process, I also made sure to attend office hours and review sessions. YouTube videos, such as Khan Academy and Organic Chemistry Tutor were also super helpful. Make sure to get plenty of rest, drink water, and eat good food!
Everyone learns differently but hopefully that gives you an idea of what my final exam study schedule looked like. Good luck to you all as finals approach!! You got this!!
Navya is a consultant on the Study Hall College Consulting team. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2021 with a double major in Molecular Cell Biology and Public Health. She is currently working as a medical assistant and applying to medical school. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.