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Five simple ways to prepare for final exams

06/24/16 - BOSTON, MA. - Jonathan Campbell AUD'18 studies in Snell Library on June 27, 2016 at Northeastern University. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Final exams for fall classes will begin on Friday. Here are five study tips to help you pre­pare, with insight from Lydia Young, interim associate dean of the College of Professional Studies’ Graduate School of Education.

Review your notes

When you re-read your notes, pay particular attention to the terms, concepts, and themes that your professors have frequently reinforced through past quizzes, lectures, and homework assignments. This will give you a good idea of the kind of material that you can expect to be tested on. Ask yourself, “What do my professors consider important?”

Make the most of your study group

Collaborative studying is effective, but only if you have a clear learning goal in mind. If you’re struggling to understand a specific concept, ask your peers for clarification. Be sure to compare notes and find out what other students took away from especially complex readings and lectures.


“Take your exams seriously—and study hard—but don’t stress out.”
— Lydia Young, interim associate dean of the College of Professional Studies’ Graduate School of Education

Avoid distractions

Find a quiet study space—the library is a good one—and focus on the task at hand. If you study at home, resist the urge to put down your books in favor of time-sucking tasks and chores. Ask yourself, “Do I need to do laundry now? Does this desk really need to be organized?” Don’t forget to build in time to eat, exercise, and sleep. There is a special power in letting things percolate in your brain.

Stick to the study strategies that work for you

Know your learning style—do you retain more knowledge when you rewrite your notes or discuss the material with a close friend—and use these strategies to help maximize your exam prep. Don’t feel pressured to use the same study techniques as your friends or roommates just because they might have had success with them. Pay attention to what works for you.

Chill out

Take your exams seriously—and study hard—but don’t stress out. The grades you receive on your tests will not determine the rest of your life. There is always room for reflection and growth. Be kind to yourself and recognize that final exams are just part of the learning process.

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