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Preparing for Final Exams

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Final exams are stressful for many students--and it's no wonder. Finals are designed to allow students to demonstrate how much information they have retained from an entire semester.

Every subject is a little bit different, so you should specialize your study skills for each particular exam.

Final Exams and General Strategy

Studies show that certain methods are important when it comes to memorization.

  • If you're studying for a topic that involves a lot of new terms and concepts, you must prepare for a test with a reusable practice test. Fill in the practice sheet and repeat until you get all the answers right.

  • Believe it or not, lots of points are lost because students get careless on bubble sheets! Review these common and very costly bubble sheet errors that can wreck your test performance.


  • Review common instruction words that teachers use. Know the difference between contrast, analyze, and compare, for example.


  • If finals week means lots of back-to-back exams for you, you should prepare yourself mentally and physically for the many consecutive hours you can spend writing.

  • Fill in the blank exams require special preparation. You start by reading over your class notes to underline new terms, important dates, noteworthy phrases, and the names of key people.

  • If part of your final involves constructing a long essay outside of the classroom, you should become very familiar with all the behavior that constitute plagiarism. You might be surprised to find out how easy it is to plagiarize. And plagiarism normally results in an immediate fail!

Preparing for Finals in English and Literature Classes

Literature professors are most likely to test you with long and short essay questions. First rule when preparing for a literature exam: read the material again!

Before going in to any essay test session, you should review basic punctuation rules.

Preparing for Exams in Foreign Language Classes

If you're mainly concerned about memorizing a list of new words when learning a foreign language, you can use this color-coding method to memorize vocabulary words.

If you're preparing for a final exam in a Spanish, you can review a list of common mistakes students make when composing Spanish essays. You may also need to insert Spanish symbols as you create your final essay.

Practice early and practice a lot to ace a Spanish test! That's the advice from readers.

Sometimes it's necessary to cram for a foreign language final. If you need to learn a lot of French in a little bit of time, try some practice techniques offered by our Guide to French Language.

Preparing for Science Finals

Many science teachers like to use multiple choice questions to test students. To prepare for this type of test, you should look closely at the concepts behind themes to make sure you are prepared for "all of the above" and "none of the above" answers. Look at any lists of components or traits.

When taking a chemistry final, be sure to "mind dump" every memorized equation at the start.

Join a study group and seek study advice from other students.

Use common sense when you prepare for test day. Eat right and get enough sleep!

Preparing for a Psychology Final

If your psychology teacher offers a test review, it is important to take smart and sensible notes. You can use your review notes to create a practice exam.

When preparing for a psychology test, it's particularly important to review psychological theories you've covered in class and apply them to real life examples when you can.

Preparing for Math Finals

For many students, math finals are the most intimidating of all! Some of the best advice for preparing for math exams comes from our readers. Work slowly and review each problem at least ten times--that's the kind of wisdom readers share.

Review these problem solving strategies to know how and when to use certain procedures.

It's critical to memorize the basic rules that are necessary for working many problems:

Final Exams in History

History exams will involve memorizing dates as well as memorizing new history terms for your exam. Be sure to brush up on techniques for preparing for a short answer test.

Many teachers in the social sciences prefer to use essay exam questions. To prepare for an essay exam, you should read over your notes and textbook chapters to search for hidden themes,

Your history final may involve writing a long history paper. Make sure your essay fits the assignment and is formatted correctly.

Our Guide to Ancient History provides excellent advice for last minute study tips for history class.

Finding a Study Partner

It is very helpful for many students to study with a good partner. Find a serious student and find a good study space to exchange practice questions and compare notes.

A great study partner will understand some methods or problems that you don't. You will be able to explain some problems to your partner in return. It's a trade-off.

Finally, read over these Top 10 Test Errors to avoid senseless mistakes that cost you valuable points!

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