Finals Fright? Ease Your Mind with Proper Prep

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grizzly bear

Finals needn't be so unbearable.

If you’ve been an engaged, active, studious student throughout the semester, you’ve no need to fret over finals; but it’s true that going into the test armed with certain strategies will ease your mind and probably increase your score.

Below are some tips to help; the first two are biggies directly from personal experience, while the third calls upon excellent advice from several universities:

1)      For timed exams, keep an eye on your timepiece! This is important, as you need to pace yourself and allot enough time to answer each question.
I’m a wristwatch person myself, but many students today are not, preferring their cell phones as timepieces. Keep in mind, though, you may not be allowed to have your phone (or other e-device) handy during finals. You could use a wall clock if the room has one, you could borrow a watch, or you could buy a cheap wristwatch for the occasion. In any case, think about this ahead of time and come prepared.

2)      Read the questions very carefully. Answer what they ask. On many occasions, my students have lost points because they didn’t answer the questions posed; or in a two-part question, they answered only the first part. Don’t make this common mistake! Read slowly and carefully, and ask the professor if you need clarification on a question.

3)      Before the final, read up on test-prep strategies. Check out resources available to you at your school – you might find these at the college’s tutoring center or website. I wrote about finals prep previously on this site (here) and included a few of my favorite test-taking tip links.

More related reading: I hear an interesting conversation over at The Chronicle of Higher Ed’s website, as readers reflect on this article that claims “rather than telling students to study for exams, we should be telling them to study for learning and understanding.”

(Regardless of this debate, I must note, for practical purposes, to students:  if you’ve got an exam, you definitely should study for it.)

Article linked above: “Stop Telling Students to Study for Exams,” David Jaffee, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/22/12.

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Just in Time for Finals: Terrific Test-Taking Tips!

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Testing SignSome students study hard and apply themselves to every assignment all semester; they truly understand the material and have mastered the concepts, but come time for the big test, they find their performance is less than stellar.

Is anxiety the culprit? I’m sure in many cases, it is a contributing factor; but putting psychological issues aside, I was surprised to learn in my community college teaching that a number of students simply don’t know how to take a test.  That is, whether or not tests make them sweat, they lack knowledge of basic test-taking skills.

Good news, though: every student can learn or improve upon these skills – and some great information is freely available on the web. Refer to these excellent university-website links, where you’ll find valuable advice for tests in any subject.

http://learningcenter.unc.edu/services/handouts/Test_Taking_handouts
http://learningcenter.unc.edu/resources/videos/test-taking
A series of test-taking resources from the Learning Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The first link leads to a series of handouts, and the second offers a helpful video.

http://www.d.umn.edu/student/loon/acad/strat/test_take.html
“Test Taking Strategies”: A list of strategies to employ before, during, and after your test. From the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

http://www.mtsu.edu/~studskl/teststrat.html
“Survival Strategies for Taking Tests”: More practical advice. From Middle Tennessee State University.

Image via mrg.bz / taliesin

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