Top 10 Tips To Prepare for Final Exams and Midterms [Guest Post]

This post is written by Mike McIntyre at

Final exams are approaching, and some of you might be wondering how to prepare. If you did well on your mid-term tests, then repeat what you did to prepare for them. Finals aren’t a lot different from mid-terms – they simply tend to cover more material, and are longer, some running up to three hours, versus the typical hour or hour and a half mid-term.

The extra volume of material and length of the exam can be tough on some students, but there are things you can do to prepare. Here is my top ten:

1. Get a good night’s sleep before the exam.

2. An absolute must if you can: get prior years’ exams and, with a small group of classmates, prepare point form sample answers to share among yourselves.

3. Review your notes to see all the items the professor indicated were important. In some cases, s/he might even have hinted at exam topics.

4. Take a quick scan of the course outline – make a note of the topics the professor seemed to spend a lot of time on, or otherwise emphasized.

5. Take a look at the assignments if there were any – see if you can find topics, skills or techniques that were emphasized, especially those after the mid-term.

6. Did the professor comment on areas of weakness on the mid-term? These sometimes reappear on the final.

7. Make a set of study notes from your class notes and the text. Writing them down in condensed format aids in recall during the final exam, and in some cases, helps you identify items you need to clarify with a friend or teaching assistant.  Work with the group you formed to address point 2. If you like – this can increase the scope of your studying.

8. If there is a key item you need to remember for the exam, study it right before you enter the exam room. Right after the exam starts, write down what you know. A favorite is to list formulas (or dates?) that you need to remember. If you wait until you are freaked out by a difficult exam question, you might not remember them.

9. Make sure you have a meal that includes carb’s AND proteins before the exam. This will give you staying power. Take a granola bar and fluids to your exam desk if permitted.

10. In case you have forgotten the first, and very important point, get a good night’s sleep before the exam.

Hopefully these points will help, but remember, if you have put effort into studying and are finding the exam difficult, probably everyone else is too, so there is no need to panic. Just write down what you know.

Submitted by Mike McIntyre

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