10 Effective Ways to Prep for Finals

No time of year is more stressful for students than finals. However, there’s no need to feel intimidated by exams — with the right preparation, you can gain the grades you deserve and that reflect the hard work you’ve put in all semester.

1. Write a Study Guide

Summarize everything you’ve covered in class by creating your own study guide. This will give you the chance to reflect on what material you need to know for your finals. It should also reveal any weak areas where you’ll want to focus your efforts.

2. Go to All Your Review Sessions

Attend the review sessions for all your classes. These are invaluable for finding out what to expect from each exam, both in terms of the style of the questions and what material the exam is likely to cover.

3. Practise for the Type of Exam

You’ll need to use quite different techniques if an exam will have multiple-choice questions than if it will have an essay question. Multiple-choice answers tend to require an understanding of key terms, whereas long answers mean you need to know how concepts relate to each other and you’ll need to be prepared with examples to use.

4. Condense Your Notes

A great study tactic for all types of exams is to reduce your notes down to the key points. You could put your notes in bullet points or draw them into a mind map that shows how concepts are linked.

5. Begin Prepping as Soon as Possible

You’ll perform much better on your exams if you start prepping several weeks in advance. Pulling all-nighters right before finals is always ineffective — you’ll struggle to retain the information and find that you’re too tired to focus on the exam.

6. Take Plenty of Breaks

It’s equally important to space out study sessions when you’re studying during the day, since it’s impossible to stay focused for hours at a time. Take short breaks to allow your mind to rest and longer ones to fit other activities into your day.

7. Clear Up Any Doubts

Don’t be afraid to ask your professors questions about the material if you’re unsure that you understand everything. Alternatively, a teaching assistant, your tutor, or another student may be able to help.

8. Study in a Group

A great way to seek support and advice from other students is to hold group study sessions. This can bring the material alive, help knowledge stick in your head better, and give you the chance to discuss ideas. Plus, you may find that you understand some concepts better than others in your group, which will give you a chance to explain the information in your own words.

9. Create a Study Calendar

Decide exactly which materials you’ll study and when. It can help to divide the information from each class into logical sections to cover. Don’t feel like you need to spend the same amount of time prepping for each exam — give yourself the most time for the material you find the most difficult. To keep yourself motivated, switch between materials from different classes throughout the day.

10. Make Flashcards

Quiz yourself on key facts and definitions using flashcards. It’s even better if you use questions similar to those that are likely to come up on the exam.

It’s much easier to study for your finals — and study the rest of the year — when you live in a student apartment rather than on campus. Start improving your study practices by finding a room for rent. Kingston students can find a home at Foundry Princess. Choose from a variety of floor plans, all of which give you a fully-furnished, private bedroom and access to great onsite amenities like a fitness centre, grocery market, and swimming pool. Apply now while spaces are still available.


Should You Take Summer Classes?

Although most students take time off during the summer, there’s often an option to continue taking classes. This can be a great opportunity to gain the additional credit you need to graduate, but it does mean you will need to sacrifice some (or all) of your summer break. To decide if this is the right option for you, consider the following pros and cons.

Pro: Summer Classes Tend to Be Short

You’re often able to achieve credit for a summer class in a shorter amount of time than it would take you to complete the class during a normal semester. At most universities, summer classes run from four to six weeks, although they can be as short as two weeks and as long as 10 weeks.

Con: You’ll Lose Some of Your Summer

The main disadvantage of taking summer classes is that you’ll lose out on at least some of your summer break. If the class is only two weeks, this is less of a big deal. However, if it lasts for most of the summer, you’ll miss out on the chance to rest and recuperate, which you may need to prevent burnout. Taking summer classes can also mean you’re unable to pursue other opportunities, like internships, seasonal work, and travel.

Pro: Graduate Earlier

If you’ve fallen behind, such as because you needed to drop a class or you were unable to study full time, summer classes can help you catch up. This will mean you’ll graduate sooner without needing to take more classes than you feel you can handle next semester. It’s always useful to graduate as early as possible and start searching for a full-time job in your field, as you’ll start earning an income to improve your living situation and start paying off student loans that much sooner.

Con: Your Scholarship May Not Cover the Costs

It’s common to need to pay for summer classes yourself, even if you’re using a scholarship to cover the costs of your education, which can be expensive. One possibility is to look for a cheaper option to earn credit, such as at a nearby college. Just be sure to confirm with your university that the credit is transferable.

Pro: Finish Less Interesting Classes

Summer is a particularly good time to take general education classes that don’t relate to your major. You’ll be able to complete the classes in a shorter amount of time to avoid spending an entire semester on material you don’t find interesting.

Con: The Intensity Can Be Too High

You need to be prepared to focus on a single class for several hours a day. If you struggle to learn this way, you may find it overwhelming, especially if you find it hard to connect with the material.

If you decide that taking summer classes is the right choice for you, the next step is to find off-campus housing, since dorms are unlikely to be available. For Queens University student housing, you have Foundry Princess. With a rooftop patio and outdoor swimming pool, it’s the perfect place to spend the summer. Book a tour to see the suites and facilities.