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How to Help Your Student Prepare for a Successful Finals Week

As we approach the end of the semester, it’s common for students to have some feelings of stress, worry or anxiousness about their final exams or big projects. Here’s a few tips to share with your student which can prevent stress-induced cramming and less than ideal outcomes during finals week.

Bring “Dead Week” to Life! The week before finals, known as “Dead Week”, is a great time for students to really get serious about incorporating a proactive study schedule into their calendar. We encourage students to use our Finals Planner and Checklist to both organize their last assignments and prepare a study schedule for the last two weeks of class. While creating a study plan, students should evaluate their Final Exam schedule to help prioritize which classes will need attention first. Once they’ve mapped their final exams, breaking up study time into multiple sessions throughout the week can help with content retention and give students enough time to seek help before finals week begins. 

Avoid Pulling an All-Nighter. Cramming is proven to be an ineffective strategy for long-term retention of content, especially during finals when several exams will take place in the same week. We suggest students prepare for each exam with a 7-day study plan:

  • Day 1: Organize materials and make a study schedule for the week. Daily 1.5-2 hour blocks are ideal to establish repetitive practice and improve memory. 
  • Day 2-3: Create flashcards, self-quizzes or study guides and harness the power of peer study groups – reviewing, practicing and discussing content with classmates can be a highly effective preparation strategy.
  • Day 4-6: Help your student use the study tools they’ve created as well as find examples of how the content applies to their life inside and outside of the classroom. Making several real life connections to concepts aids in recall and depth of understanding. 
  • Test Day: Get a full night of sleep, stay hydrated, use positive self-talk and  breathing exercises to help with day-of anxiety and confidence. And arriving 10 minutes early to find a seat where there will be minimal distractions can set students up for a focused test period.

Need More Practice? Share this video with your student for a guided tutorial on how to schedule the end of their semester successfully: Your Finals Study Plan

Built-in Accountability. The Advising and Academic Support Center offers several “Study with Me” sessions during the last two weeks of the semester where students can join a structured, two hour study hall that is facilitated by a staff member using the Pomodoro Technique (25 min of study, followed by 5 min breaks). If your student has trouble finding the support they need to prepare for finals, encourage them to stop by the Advising and Academic Support Center for more information!