Finals week is right around the corner—here’s how to survive it

Students gather in a Student Union classroom to learn about the most effective ways to study for final exams around lunchtime. (Maggie Chafouleas/ The Daily Campus)

Around this time of year, students are busy stressing over their upcoming finals as exam after exam weighs down on their minds. Luckily enough, Off-Campus Student Services collaborated with the Academic Achievement Center (AAC) yesterday to present “The Ultimate Guide to Finals Prep.” A boxed lunch was offered to students as a presentation was given by UConn alumna and AAC Learning Services Coordinator Sloane K. Hanley. The presentation covered a multitude of topics, ranging from the many resources that AAC offers, as well as useful tips for preparing and reviewing for an exam.

The AAC is located in room 217 of the Rowe building. They offer walk-in coaching hours, presentations, supplemental instruction and the mentoring program UConn Connects. Within the past academic year, the AAC has had over 11,000 sign-ins, and the average GPA for students who regularly accessed the resources that AAC offers was a 3.25. The AAC is also currently offering “Finals Grind.” For students who walk in and create a five-day study plan for one exam, they can be entered into a raffle for a $20 gift card to a local restaurant. A student can gain more entries by making other study plans for their other exams.

Before delving into the many strategies for studying, Hanley had students talk in groups about the ways in which they currently prepare for an exam. Students discussed how they used planners to make sure to figure out what exams they have when, keeping a daily to-do list, practice exams and apps that would help reinforce studying practices.

During the main portion of the presentation, Hanley discussed that there are five steps for preparing for finals: organizing, anticipating, reviewing, preparing and performing.

Reorganizing notes can be one of the most useful ways to begin studying. It’s important to rewrite notes on paper, rather than typing them, because it’s easier to retain the information. This also helps students with looking over material that they may have missed in class, so they know what exactly to study and how to do it. Color-coding and highlighting notes are also helpful for making sure to cover the most important topics while studying.

Hanley mentioned how to anticipate an exam by catching up with all readings and assignments in a class. It’s also useful to meet with a TA, professor or even a study group to create a study guide and review material.

When reviewing course material, there is an abundance of review strategies available. Spacing out study sessions over time can help nail down the toughest of formulas and vocabulary to remember. Other study skills include using flashcards, Cornell Note-taking, mind maps and using Quizlet. Hanley said that one of the most active studying skills is by teaching a friend.

It’s important to prepare for an exam the right way, otherwise all that hard work could go to waste. Physically speaking, students should try to get at least six to eight hours of sleep a night and get a healthy and filling breakfast to make sure they’re not hungry during a strenuous exam. Not only this, but it’s equally as important for students to start a habit of waking up early so they’re not late to a final exam.

During the actual exam, try predicting some of the questions that could show up. Pay attention to what professors say and look for any big themes or keywords that are mentioned. When tackling multiple choice questions, try answering before looking at the options presented and eliminate any obviously wrong answers. If a word bank is provided on a set of fill in the blank questions, start with the easiest answers and be on the lookout for context clues. For essay and short answer questions, it may help to break up the prompt into smaller parts and create a small outline in any available free space as well as defining keywords and topics.

“Utilize your resources. Obviously, that can include the AAC, but that could be resources like the Q center and W center, friends in your courses, a TA and the professor,” Hanley said. “UConn has so many academic resources to offer, and I think a lot of students don’t utilize them out of fear because they’re struggling.”


Brandon Barzola is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brandon.barzola@uconn.edu.