Tips and tricks to conquering finals this year


With finals week approaching quickly, many students are feeling overwhelmed by the idea of taking exams online. Now that all University of Connecticut students have shifted to distance learning, it can take a bit of a readjustment to find one’s stride in a home environment. Students who have spent the semester in their childhood bedrooms may have gotten used to the challenges of working from home. Nonetheless, it is important to recap the basics in preparation for final exams.  

An important resource to take advantage of is UConn’s mandated reading week. To get students back in the zone after the long-awaited Thanksgiving Recess, the university has stipulated that no classes or assessments can be held between Dec. 8 and Dec. 13. Rather than treating this as an additional break, be sure to make use of this time wisely. The reading week is a great resource for students to write papers or study for finals, free from the obligations of additional coursework.  

In order to fully benefit from this time, start the week off by creating a study plan so you utilize each reading day, but are not overworking yourself. Most importantly, adhere to it! Know when each of your exams takes place. The last thing you want to do is sleep through it, especially if you’re new to learning at home and lack the usual structure. UConn’s final exam schedule for all five campuses can be found here.

If you have bunched finals, with three exams in one calendar day, four exams in one calendar day or three consecutive exams, you may be eligible to reschedule your exams. The deadline to make this request is Dec. 4.  

Plan for the week based on when each exam or paper is due. The Writing Center, another great resource, is still taking appointments during the reading week. It can be difficult to find motivation at home, especially with many classes resorting to take-home papers instead of exams. Managing your time is key – as fun as it is to scroll through TikTok, minutes will very quickly turn into hours. Getting tasks done early will ease a lot of stress and is a strong way to start the holidays.  

If you’ve fallen behind this semester, use the beginning of the week to catch up! Many professors teaching online have recorded lectures and posted them onto HuskyCT, allowing students to revisit areas they need clarification on.  

As tempting as it may be with everything being online, don’t cheat! There is more to what meets the eye when it comes to online test-taking. Besides studying eye contact via a Lockdown Browser, professors can use Blackboard to see how much time a student spends on each question, when an assignment was started and ended, along with several other analytics.

Even if not as obvious as the last tip, studying for open book exams is still a valuable use of your time! At the very least, sift through the material beforehand to avoid flailing wildly on exam day, victim to the ticking clock.  

Speaking of time constraints, read through any provided guidelines and have a thorough understanding of the test format in advance. That way, you can keep your eye on the clock and turn everything in on time.  

The Husky Statue with a holiday ribbon on top, located outside of Gampel. After this week, there will be only two more weeks of the fall semester. Originally tweeted by UConn (@UConn) on November 20, 2020.

Next, prep for any technological issues! Find a comfortable test-taking spot with a good connection and inform your family of your schedule, so they know to keep quiet for an hour or two. Do a test run under the proper conditions if need be and come to your exam prepared with a fully charged device.  

In case technological issues do arise, don’t fret too much. Stay calm and contact your professor as soon as possible. Most professors will understand, but if possible, take photos or screenshots for extra proof.  

Safe travels home, Huskies! Enjoy your well-deserved break.

Finally, don’t let stress get to your head! Follow these tips for some guidance, but take a breath every now and then. Only two more weeks of the fall semester to go before the holidays are here! Happy studying! 

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