Final Exams: Big Final Four Tips

From Malcolm & Sue Kahn, authors of College Success & YOU: Achieving Your Goals:

To become a team competing in a final four competition, the players must carefully prepare to win their final games.  Just like the players on such a team (for example, the University of Connecticut Huskies—the 2014 NCAA champions), you can plan a winning performance for your final exams.  Here are our big final four tips:


1.  Teams that win tournaments engage in planning by scheduling strategy meetings and practices to analyze ways to win against their opponents.  Successful students plan for finals by applying principles of time management.  This means completing all assignments and required reading for each class early enough that you can begin actual study about a week before your scheduled final exam.  Implement a study plan for each exam, questioning yourself along the way to be sure you understand the material.

2.  Players watch films of their opponents to learn what to expect in a big game.  Similarly, students can pay careful attention to any information professors provide about what to expect on the final exam.  Learn from your previous tests the kinds of questions your professor prefers to use—are the questions usually from the textbook, from lectures, from outside readings?  If you can, review your previous tests from the professor to see what questions you missed, and determine what you can do to improve for the final.

3.  To achieve victory, players must be at their peak on the day of the big competition.  Students taking final exams must also be at their peak on final exam day.  You can complete your last review the night before the final exam and schedule a good night’s sleep.  Don’t expect to learn anything new on exam day; just skim over your material to trigger your recall.  Getting yourself psyched without becoming too nervous will enhance your concentration as you answer exam questions.

4.  During competition, players must “read” their opponents’ offensive and defensive moves and respond appropriately.  During final exams, students must read both exam directions and questions very carefully.  Quickly preread through the entire test before beginning, noting how many points a section of an exam is worth and allotting time for that section accordingly.  For objective tests, read all of the answer choices before making your decision.  For essay tests, carefully read the essay question and write a precise, organized answer.


Thanks for the helpful tips, Malcolm and Sue! How do you best prepare for finals? Let us know! Join the discussion

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