It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Just kidding, but finals aren't all that bad, you've all gotten this far in your university career so take a moment to pat yourself on the back and appreciate all your hard work and success.
We at YouAlberta want to make sure all our peers are confident and calm going into finals this year, so here is our quick list of tips and tricks for ensuring success!
Before the Test
- The work you put in is the work that you will get out. Unless you’re one of those geniuses that can skip every class and ace the exams (which, let’s be honest not many of us are)… So in the next three weeks give it your all and save the vegging out for Christmas break.
- Visit your professors to double check that you’re understanding materials and to ask questions about material you’re concerned about. Professors can also offer you additional resources if you need extra materials to help you understand the information that you’re studying.
- Make sure you know what you don’t know. When you’re feeling stressed it’s likely that you’ll just want to copy the whole textbook and risk misidentifying the information that you do need to focus on vs. the information that you already know. If professors give out practice exams start there; you can use them to verify what kinds of questions you know how to answer and which kinds you don’t. If your professors don’t share review materials with you, then do a quick read through of your notes and textbook to see if there are any ambiguous terms or concepts you don’t remember (or easily recall). Be sure to also check the online Exam Registry to find any old practice exams for your course.
- Create your own practice exams. Doing so will help you practice thinking about how concepts could be tested and will also help to highlight the areas where you might need a little extra practice. If you can’t answer your own questions, then you know that it’s likely something that you need to study more.
- Look over your past exams to identify your weak points and to familiarize yourself with your professor’s grading style. If they usually leave comments like “expand” or “explain” or “spelling” then you should probably try to keep in mind how much detail they like to see (or how many terms you need to practice spelling, etc.) for your next exam. Doing so should help you avoid losing marks on format or missed specifics.
- Use the student services! The services exist specifically to help us, so be sure you get your use out of them.
- Student Success Centre (They're great if you need help with your study/learning strategies and writing.)
- Math and Applied Science Centre (Checkout their review sessions for math, science, and engineering courses.)
- The Centre for Writers (If you'd like someone to review your prof's feedback on written assignments with you, then they are the people to see!)
- Specialized Support and Disability Services (If you find that you need to write your exams in a specialized environment, visit them for help!)
- University Wellness Services (This includes the University Health Centre, Counselling and Clinical Services, all of the wellness workshops that you hear about on campus, and Unwind Your Mind. So if you're feeling unwell in any way or if you want to take some preventative steps to keep yourself healthy, they're here to help.)
- Peer Support Centre (If you just need to talk things out, talk with them. They'll listen. It's what they do.)
- Start early. If you have final papers and portfolios due make sure that you get started early and chip away at essays and corrections day by day. Doing so will help prevent you from having to re-write papers all at once… and let’s be honest, if you’re scrambling to finish an assignment the night before, it can be difficult to catch errors and unclear sentences.
- Catch up on any missed readings- they might seem pointless but professors made them required readings for a reason. Even just a brief flip through to highlight the main points will help you tie in important concepts when writing long answer questions.
- Study with your classmates. Everyone learns material a little differently and getting the opinions of others can fill in the gaps of your understanding and can help add detail to what you know. You can book study spaces in the libraries or you can always take over a table in a place like CAB or SUB where louder group conversations are allowed.
- Change up your environment. Sometimes having a favourite study spot can be very helpful, but if you find that it isn’t helping you, you might want to consider trying out a new space. Being in a new space can sometimes help you to refocus your attention and can even improve your ability to retain information. Plus, you might just discover some new favourite study spots on campus.
Day of the Test
- Know that you put effort in all semester and trust yourself to recall what you'll need to know. Panicking about whether you know the material or not will only set you up to sabotage yourself. So don’t become your own distraction! Instead have a little faith in your own abilities.
- Be sure to eat a good meal before the test. Your mother knows best and you will perform better when filled with a healthy meal.
- Arrive early to get out any pre-test jitters, get your materials out and take some deep breaths to calm down and get into a focused mindset.
- Reward yourself with something relaxing or that you enjoy before studying for the next test to avoid negative thinking. If you stay positive, stress is easier to avoid and you will have more energy to keep studying !
We’re all in this together, fellow students, so be brave and be confident! Don’t forget that there’s always someone to talk to, be it family, friends, our student resources or professionals, so please make sure that you put your needs first in order to stay healthy and happy throughout these stressful times.
Hi, I’m Paige! I’m a fourth year student aspiring to become a Conference Interpreter after completing a bachelor of arts in French, Spanish and Japanese. I have a passion for everything cultural and am a total linguistic nerd.
Away from my favorite study spot on campus, you can find me training with the Rowing Team or taking naps wherever possible. I love getting involved on campus and meeting new people so I’m always attending events happening around the University.
I hope to share stories that highlight student life at the U of A; showcasing the bright and creative minds we have here at the U. I also hope to provide you with helpful tips to improve the time that you spend here on campus.