A student’s guide to plowing through finals in one piece

As finals season looms, preparation remains a priority for students


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Finals are underway for Fall 2021 and there are countless ways to prepare

Ever wonder how to prepare for finals?

Finals are just around the corner and the big question is ‘how can I prepare and get ready?’

The first thing you should do is check in with your professors and ask if there are any study guides. Most of the professors would have study guides and many won’t. Professors would prepare you through the semester and would have you take notes — those notes would help you when you take your finals.

Rosemary Bell, a history professor at Skyline College talked about how some instructors would have study guides and some may not.

“There are some instructors who will not give study guides,” Bell said. “ The belief is that the student should study everything that has been covered in class since the first week. Without a study guide, a student must be organized and take good notes. Ask questions when they need clarification. Attend study groups that themselves are organized. This helps students develop responsibility. It also helps encourage the student to ‘own’ their education.”

 Another way you can prepare for finals is to figure out what each final would look like. If your classes give you all of your finals all at once, look for the most difficult one first. Just get it out of the way, so you can cruise past the rest. 

Professor Bell makes sure to cover every single topic that’s gonna be on the final throughout the semester. 

“When I gave traditional final exams, I’d make sure the students knew that this will be on the final so make sure you understand it, ” Bell said. “ If an instructor gives a mid-term and a final exam, usually the information tested will be from the mid-term on.”

Don’t waste the time of your professors because they are trying to help you understand each and every single topic. Whenever your professors ask you to take notes, you should always listen because this would very much help you in the long run.

A good night’s sleep is always great before final exams. Professor Bell explains that a good night is always good and ways to prepare when you’re minutes away from starting your final. 

“A good night’s sleep helps,” Bell said.  I would tell a student to write down information on a 3×5 index card that they may need to reinforce before the test. Sit in a quiet area and slowly read each card.” 

A great environment is good when preparing for a final. If you are attending classes in person, it would be great if you can go to the library because everyone in there would be studying for a final exam. The atmosphere would be ideal because you would see everyone there studying and a very quiet place would work for a great studying environment.

If you will be taking finals online, it would be great if you can find study groups studying the same subject you are. Find classmates and form groups. This would elevate you to keep studying and would help you understand the material well. You all can share your ideas because everyone has a different understanding of the material and sharing that idea would help you even more because you would have different strategies on how to solve the problem.

Kenyatta Weathersby, a math professor at Skyline College explains how you should always ask professors questions. 

“You should be talking to your professor, asking them what should I be studying?” Weathersby says. “ Asking them if I have this grade now, what would be the possibility of me getting an A grade? What’s gonna be on the exam or what should I know about the final?”

Professors want you to do your very best because they would always give you information about the finals beforehand. Some professors would tell you what kind of questions would be on the quiz.

There are also multiple test-taking strategies that you can do to help you do better in your final exams. Professor Weathersby tells us what strategies would help you with your final.

“When you are taking a test, do the questions you know first and anything you don’t know how to do,” Weathersby said. “ You come back to them and also I tell my students to bring a bottle of water and supplies. Also, have everything ready so you can be good.” 

When you are beginning your final exam and begin to feel stressed about it. Don’t worry you got this, drink some water, take some deep breaths and you got this.

“Take 3 deep breaths and calm down, get some water or ice water and take a break,” Weathersby said. “Then when everything is good, turn to your final.” 

If you need help before you start your final, you can ask for help from Skyline’s tutors. Padina Amirnasiri who is a Supplemental Instruction Mentor at Skyline tells us how we can get help from a tutor before taking finals.

“You can get help from a tutor if you plan to meet them for review prep,” Amirnasiri said. “It is important to seek help ahead of time to ensure others have the time available to meet with you.”

We all need time to relax and take a break between finals and Amirnasiri shares with us a tip that could help us get through our finals.

“A tip that would help students with finals is to use proper time management to finish their assignments in a timely manner,” Amirnasiri said. “It is important to set times for checking in on your mental health as well. You should set aside time for taking a walk or meditating to relax.”

Catherine Stoehr who is a Supplemental Instructor for Social Psychology and a Writing/ESOL Peer Tutor has another tip that she would like to share with us that would help you get through your final.

“Start organizing the material you may need for your finals well in advance so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute on the day off,” Stoehr said. “Pace yourself in the weeks or days before so you have a manageable amount to review or prepare for each day. Work out a schedule that allows you to balance the work you have left with any non-school-related activities that bring you joy.”

If you need help finding a tutor at Skyline, you can walk in the learning center and they would be glad to help you. Stoehr explains more about this. 

“In-person drop-ins will be available in The Learning Center through December 17th,” Stoehr says. “ For online tutoring services as well as for scheduling an in-person appointment. Students can access The Learning Center through the Canvas shell of their classes. Visit The Learning Center’s website, where they can also view the schedule of all in-person and online tutoring services by subject.”

  When final exams arrive, reflect on what you have learned throughout your whole semester. Look back at your notes. Go for it. You got this.