A Guide to Surviving Final Exams


Junior Michael Carroll writes a CTA (Critical Thinking Assessment) for his Government class.

Amy Garrido, Staff Writer

Tip 1: Utilize your study halls, even if you are preparing for a final later that week.

Study periods are very important because they give you time to refresh your brain of all the studying done prior to the period. By using my study periods throughout the week, I find it useful to ask last-minute questions. This allows me to clarify a few things I may have had a difficult time understanding. 

It is important not to waste these periods because it will lessen the load of studying done at home. Even if you have a study hall final the next period, you can be studying for a difficult final that you’re taking tomorrow. 

Tip 2: Find out what type of studying works best for you.

With finals comes studying, and to succeed during finals week you need to find the type of studying that works best for you. I find it most beneficial to go through and retake my notes for a class. It helps me to relearn the material, but does not take as long because it’s review. There is also Quizlet. This method is quick and on the go. You can download the app, and do multiple periods of 5 minutes throughout the day. It is light, but beneficial studying. 

Tip 3: Do not try to cram all your studying into the study period before a final.

While it is important to utilize your study periods, students should also study outside of school. Study periods as simply additional time given to students to make last-minute preparations. However, it should not be the sole time students spend studying. Trying to cram a semester’s worth of material in 100 minutes will most likely not happen. I learned this the hard way when I thought I could push off studying until the period before. The only thing I accomplished was becoming overwhelmed, and I regretted not starting earlier. From that day on, I never pushed off all my studying until the period before. 

Tip 4: Take breaks.

While studying it is important to take breaks. Your brain can only take in so much information before feeling completely overwhelmed. By taking breaks, you’re allowing your mind to rest for a short period of time, and it essentially “recharges.” After long periods of studying, some may find it difficult to concentrate. Taking breaks will allow your mind to be distracted for 10 minutes, so you can get another 45 minutes of studying. 

I find that not only do the breaks help me regain concentration, but it also helps motivate me. I think of the breaks as goals, so that my studying has rewards. I am motivated to get through 45 minutes of fully-concentrated studying, to get 10 minutes of checking notifications on my phone. 

Tip 5: Go to bed early.

Typically, the week of finals can be a miserable time for students. Lack of sleep will only make the week more unbearable. Although it is important to study, you should not lose sleep because of it. Try studying earlier, so you aren’t up until midnight trying to remember the difference between your imperfect and preterite verbs in Spanish. 

It may not seem like a big deal, but a full night’s rest will go a long way during this week. You will not feel as tired, and may be left feeling motivated to pass your final. In general, many high schoolers struggle with getting enough sleep at night, so this is an important week to go to bed early. Also, getting in bed at 9:30 p.m. and staying up on your phone until 11:30 p.m. does not count as going to bed early. I promise the Tik Toks on the “For You” page will be there on Friday night after finals week. 

Tip 6: Eat breakfast

Start your morning with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Eating breakfast can help jump-start your day. Breakfast is the first step to success during finals week. By eliminating the distraction of hunger, it will be easier to concentrate on studying and test-taking. It will also help avoid awkward moments in a study period when your stomach starts growling in a silent room. 

Tip 7: A grade does not define you

Regardless of what grade you end up getting on a final, a grade does not define you. You are so much more than a grade. No matter what anyone says, your ability as a person could not possibly be measured on a final in one class, of one semester, of one school year. The mentality of “my grade defines my worth and ability as a person” is toxic and self-deprecating. A grade is a two-dimensional concept and students are three-dimensional, meaning that it can and will never be able to even begin describing a student’s abilities and worth. By eliminating this mentality, finals week may not be as bad. No matter what grades you receive by the end of the week, be proud that you made it through the week.