In the last weeks of the semester, many students are confronted with finals that take various forms. The prospect of finals can be daunting and where to begin preparing for them might not seem apparent to many.
Each mode of evaluating a student’s grasp of course objectives requires a different approach to preparation; preparing for a multiple-choice exam is very different from preparing a paper or presentation.
To obtain good scores across all finals, preparation throughout the semester is key. As Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” succinctly and wisely puts it, “Begin with an End in Mind.”
Comprehensive exams uniquely benefit from Covey’s advice. Assimilating an entire semester’s worth of information and retaining the knowledge for application and/or reapplication on a test requires time.
However, some students find themselves working against a 48-hour deadline, rushing to learn an entire semester’s worth of material prior to a final exam.
“The best way to approach taking a final you basically know you know nothing about is to attend the review sessions or class meetings where professors discuss what will likely feature prominently in terms of overall point distribution [in the final]. This way you spend time cramming the knowledge most likely to boost your grade rather than trying the impossible and overwhelming task of learning an entire semester,” said Chloe Smith, a fourth-year ECON major.
The value of effective and energizing breaks between study sessions also assists in those binging on knowledge acquisition. Schedule the precious time remaining wisely, with the end goals clearly specified to finish strong.
“I outline the type of problem or application of a formula to be mastered first. Then I set my alarm to go off after an hour, silence my phone and exit out of all unrelated internet distractions, and work until the alarm goes off. Then I’ll unwind with an episode of TV, and go back at it,” said Chad Hansen, a fourth-year BA major.
For final assignments, such as papers or presentations, it’s likely students have already prepared a significant amount. Such assignments force students to finish their work prior submitting a paper or giving a presentation.
For presentations, take time to practice speaking in front of the mirror or a friend. Also, ensure the presentation of material, whether it is in oral or written form, is easily accessible to the intended audience. Students must have a firm grasp of the concepts they present and must outline their ideas clearly to effectively communicate.