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Preparing for the Final Exams

by Ron Kurtus (updated 28 February 2022)

The final exam is probably the most important test in the school year. If you are in middle school, you may not even have a final exam, but you certainly will have finals in high school and especially in college.

Since the tests are so important, you need to be well-prepared for taking the exams. You need to plan your schedule for when the exams will be and how much studying your will need to do. Then you need to find out what to study and then get in condition for taking the final exam.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Plan your schedule

The end of the semester can be a hectic time, with term papers due and final exams coming up. You need to plan out your schedule, so that you have enough time to prepare for all of your exams.

Estimate required time

About a month before finals, examine your schedule and determined when each of your final exams will occur, as well as other what other projects must be handed in.

Then determine how much time you will need to prepare for each exam and when you plan to study. It is better to estimate that more time is required than to underestimate and be in a panic mode.

When taking a test or mid-term exam, most students typically study the night before. Consider how much time you spent on studying for previous exams and whether it was enough time. This will give you an idea of how much time you need to spend studying for your final exams.

Concentrate and don't procrastinate

Since you have to study for several final exams, a good question is whether you should concentrate on one at a time or hop from one subject to another. I think concentrating on one at a time is better to avoid the possibility of procrastinating about studying difficult material.

Find out what to study

You need to find out what material will be on the final exam and review your notes, as well as your past exams.

Find out what will be covered

The first thing you need to do is to find out whether the final exam will cover the entire semester or only material since the last exam. This will determine how you should go about studying for the final. If your teacher or instructor does not explain the scope in class, it is worthwhile asking to find out.

If material since the last exam

If the final will cover only material since the last exam, then you should approach it like any other exam. In other words, reread your lecture notes since the last exam several times.

If entire course

If the final will cover the entire course, you will need to go back and reread your notes from the first lecture. This should not be too difficult because you are already familiar with the earlier material.

Approach is different than for regular tests

You should approach a review of the material for finals in a slightly different manner than for regular exams.

As a general rule, tests giving during the semester check your knowledge on very specific topics. On the other hand, questions on the finals typically inquire about major themes running through the various topics presented throughout the semester. Look for those major themes as you review your entire set of lecture notes.

Review past exams

As part of your preparation for the final exams, review tests given earlier during the semester. Although it is unlikely that the same questions will appear in the final, you may see a pattern in the type of questions asked by your instructor.

Make sure that you understand the complete answer to all the questions asked on previous exams, particularly if you missed part or all of the question.

Get in condition for exam

You need to get in condition for your final exam. It is preparing to take the exam.

(See Preparing to Take a Test for more information.)


Refreshing your memory of what you had learned over the semester gets your mind in shape to perform well in the exam. Expressing your knowledge can be almost automatic if you are well-prepared.

Physical condition

Your physical condition affects your mental abilities and ability to do well in your final exams. You should watch what you eat and drink before taking a test and get plenty of rest. You will need stamina to perform at your peak for all your exams.

Mental frame of mind

You should approach your final exams with a relaxed and confident frame of mind. If you allowed yourself enough time to study, you will feel rushed and worried. With proper planning and preparation, you will be ready to do your best in the exams.


The grades you get on your final exams are a major part of your grades in your classes. Since exams are so important, you need to be well-prepared for taking them. You need to plan your schedule, know how much studying your will need to do, find out what to study, and get in condition for taking your final exams.

Be sure of yourself

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Good Grades Resources


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