The Ultimate Guide to Finals

It’s December! And as a Yellowjacket, two things pop up in your mind when you hear it’s December: winter and finals. For winter, it’s just awesome, but for now we’ll only worry about finals. Finals don’t only test your knowledge; finals evaluate your whole semester of work, absorbing information, trying different study techniques, and utilizing available resources. Therefore, it’s extremely important to understand your test before you study for it. So, below are some tips I have learned over the past three semesters:

Periodical Reading Room at Rush Rhees.

Periodical Reading Room at Rush Rhees, a popular study spot


1. Start early
The typical tip for acing exams! The earlier you start, the better and deeper the insight you get into the material. Additionally, more time enables you to assess your abilities and work on your weaknesses.

2. Find the perfect study spot
It’s very important for you to find the location where you’re most productive and accustomed to its level of noise. It could be the library, a cafe, or your residence hall; just make sure it works for you.

3. Create your own study schedule
While some professors might provide you with a study guide, you have to customize your own study guide according to which sections you’ve mastered, and which are more expected to be on the exam.

4. Study using mind maps
Professors design exams and explain lectures in class as a sequence so that you can connect the dots. Therefore, it’s often very helpful to imagine the material in a mind map, which would help you figure out the concept behind any problem and dismantle any question to its smallest elements. And even if the material isn’t relatable, figure out a relation that’s easy for you.

5. Find the fun part in it
Making your study time fun will enable you to enjoy the material and master it. Moreover, it’ll enable you to focus more, and bear more studying. Reward yourself with a treat after you finish studying a section, or turn it into a game of Jeopardy with others in your class.

6. Make good use of available office hours
Your professors and TAs are truly willing to help you and augment your understanding of the class material. Therefore, they’re a great resource to help you understand any part you struggle with instead of wasting hours trying to get it on your own. Moreover, keep in mind that those TAs have been through the same experience as you, so they’ll always have tips for you and will be able to guide you.

P.S. Don’t forget that CETL and the writing center are always there for you!

7. Understand the objective of the exam
For every college exam, professors specify their objectives and the skills they want to test their students’ mastery of. And discovering this is your mission, so you should:

  1. Scan for patterns in past tests.
  2. Check the objectives of the course section in the syllabus.
  3. Ask the professor directly.

8. Take breaks and stay healthy
Our minds absorb information in small chunks, and you have to treat your mind well to get its maximum ability. So, next time you study, take a quick break after a while and make sure to isolate yourself from the material so that you come back with a fresh mind. Moreover, eating well and staying active enhances your learning ability and extends your mental capacity.

9. Do questions don’t just scan with your eyes
This one most students fall short of achieving. Don’t just scan through the material and think you’ve got it. You have to ask and answer questions out loud or by hand, so that you can test yourself. And it helps you remember the flow of the thought in the exam.

In closing, good luck in the upcoming weeks. And always bear in mind that you should work smart, not hard, and exceed your expectations. Additionally, if you’re not confident, just remember that if you could make it into the University of Rochester, you can make your way through any exam. Also, stay positive and relax!


About the author

Amro Bayoumy

Hello! I'm a member of the Class of 2020 majoring in mechanical engineering and clustering in German language and culture. I'm from Egypt, but I've spent half my life in Abu Dhabi, UAE. I'm involved in Engineers for a Sustainable World, the Students' Association, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Student Association for the Development of Arab Cultural Awareness. PS: I love food! I am so thrilled to be sharing my experiences with everyone.

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