DePaul University Career Center's Blog

10 Ways to Survive & Ace Your Final Exams

By Hector Cervantes, Junior at DePaul University

The pressure is on for students at DePaul University who have now entered their tenth week of the quarter, or better known as their last week before final exams. DePaul University is one of the few universities that are on the quarter system, notorious for being a fast-paced system. Think of it as a 16-week traditional semester course load put into a 10 week quarter.

It’s not hard to understand how DePaul students can be stressed out during finals. However, as a junior, I have experienced many final exam weeks. So here are 10 tips for surviving and acing your exams:

1. Creating a study schedule

Being organized and having a set schedule and routine will make your life a whole lot easier. The best piece of advice I can give you is to not cram study material in one sitting. Instead, spread out work and study time for each exam well in advance. This way, much more information will be memorized, and you’ll be less likely to burnout and be frustrated.

2. Choosing the study location and settings

The setting and location where you study is a significant factor in the success of a study session. The study environment affects productivity, so choose your study area wisely. One solution to this problem is to vary your study location. After some time, switch to a different area. Also, make sure your study location is well-lit and free of clutter.

Pro-tip: Don’t pick somewhere too comfortable like a bed or couch and eliminate distractions.

3. Maintaining and knowing various study skills

When you study, make sure you know the method you’re using is helping you as you don’t want to waste your time. If you see a method of studying is not working out, change it. Some study methods can be using flashcards, re-reading course materials, online quizzes, study guides, and even group study sessions. Experiment with different study methods until you feel you are successful.

4. Know when to practice self-care

Do not neglect self-care, your mental health is important. DePaul University offers many events for students to practice self-care, like Midnight Breakfast. Other events include meditating, yoga, and arts or crafts. Instead of studying for a long time, take short frequent study breaks every two hours so you’re less likely to burn out. Go to the gym, work on a hobby, make a snack… anything that avoids thinking about course work.

5. Communicate with professors and peers

Communication is the key to success. If you are unsure about a topic, ask your professor. You will never know if you do not say something. Instead of being clueless, email your peers or instructors with clarifying questions. The course page in D2L has a list of names and emails of students and instructor(s).

6. Seek out resources

Make sure you attend your professor’s office hours, not only will they appreciate it, it will also make you stand out. Many departments also offer free tutoring from students who have taken the class in the past. You can also schedule an appointment at The Writing Center to help you revise your papers. I have received help when I attended the LSP quantitative reasoning free tutoring, and it helped me become more prepared when it came to the final exams.

7. The night before

Be sure to have everything prepared for the day tomorrow. Make sure to have your bag ready, and clothes set so you can avoid being late to the exam. Also, make sure to get a good 7-9 hours of sleep, and to avoid any distractions like your phone or laptop that will keep you up at night.

8. The morning of

The alarm clock finally rings, the first tip is to not hit the snooze button. Jump out of bed, and start off your day. Do not skip breakfast, and eat something that will give you energy for the exam.

9. During the exam

It is best to arrive a few minutes early to get situated and be sure to use the washroom before. Try to stay for the entire duration of the exam. If you come across a hard question, skip it and come back. Also, be sure to read the questions carefully. Don’t get nervous, all the studying you have done will pay off.

10. Reward yourself!

Be sure to reward yourself and celebrate when you’re done. Hang out with a friend or do something that you know you enjoy.

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