How to Study Effectively + Nail Your Final Exams

If you ever want to see a college student at their most stressed out, visit them during finals week. Although finals are made to truly test your knowledge and learning in a course, they have somehow turned into an all-out stress inducer for college kids across the nation. However terrifying college finals may seem, you do seem to always get through them, and the sun rises the next day. But do you know how to study effectively for a final?

Knowing how to study effectively is important as you can spend less time studying, but get more from your sessions, which will help you perform better on the test. Below you will find some of my best tips for killing it on your next exam. These are my tried and true tips that I personally use myself during finals!

Psst! I have another post about more general study tips for college. Click here to read that post about 25 study tips for college.

How to Study Effectively for Your Final Exams

How to Study for Finals

Get a Study Buddy

Be sure to take advantage of the other peers in your class when approaching a final. Chances are, they are just as freaked out about the final as you are. Because of this, you have the opportunity to possibly study with someone from the class.

A practical way to find a new study buddy in your class is to just simply ask someone in person after class! Perhaps there is a person you sat next to all semester long or even a new friend you might have made. If you are too shy to ask in person, think of emailing them (check the class roster) or shooting them a Facebook message.

Having another person from your same class to study with is so beneficial, as you can help quiz each other on course topics, and also clear up any misunderstandings about the content of the course. While you could just study on your own or with another friend, having someone who sat alongside you in the class will prove to be more helpful as you know they are in the same boat as you! Strength in numbers, right?!

Revisit Course Content

Let’s imagine that in an ideal world you have been staying on top of your course-work all semester long, and have been reading your textbook every night. Wow! That’s great.

Now, let’s take a look at reality and realize that you probably missed an assignment or two, and haven’t been hitting up that textbook as much as you’ve been hitting up that new season of Scandal on Netflix.

The great part about finals week is that you have time to revisit old course content that you may not have fully understood when first learning it, or might not have even read/studied it the first time around. Professors are looking to check your comprehension of the course in final exams, and will probably be pulling questions and content for the final from the entirety of the course.

Make sure to flip through your textbook and familiarize yourself with all of the course terms, theories, and concepts. You don’t want to be kicking yourself the day of the final when you realize the answer to a question was straight from the textbook! Also, ask to meet with your professor during their office hours to ask any questions or for further clarification on the course.

Prioritize Studying

I’ve heard people in my classes complain before that they were “too busy to study” or “wish they could’ve studied more.” While yes, there are sometimes physical and immovable limitations on our schedules, studying should really become a priority for you during finals week if you want to perform well.

A favorite way of mine to prioritize studying is to physically plan out and write in my planner the times that I will be studying for my test throughout the week. Having a set time written out and blocked off from the rest of your activities will protect your precious free time, and prepare you for when it’s time to take the test. Don’t be the whiney girl that’s upset with herself when final grades are returned!

Find Your Study Spot

Having somewhere sacred on campus (or in the surrounding areas) for you to study is key during finals week. Whether it is in the campus library or the nearby Starbucks, having somewhere to go where you can clear your head can really help you get into the studying “zone.”

It’s imperative to have a quiet place to study at where you feel comfortable and free from distractions. Sure, your bed might be comfy, but will you be tempted to doze off during studying or pull out your computer to Netflix + chill by yourself? Take an honest look at where you normally study (and with who!) before you go to study for your next final. Personally, I like to go to a coffee shop that is off-campus so that I am in a quiet environment, surrounded by other people that are usually doing work or something of the sort. Studying in the library on my college campus personally stresses me out and makes me feel more overwhelmed, but every person’s preference is different! 

Give Yourself a Break

I know, this may sound like a paradox. Give yourself a break?! On finals week? No way.

Yes way. I believe that you should study and prepare for tests as best as you possibly can, but also realize at the end of the day that exams are somewhat out of your hands and there is only so much you can do leading up to them. Give yourself a study break every now and again, and remind yourself that the result of this final will not alter the rest of your life significantly. If you follow the tips in this post on how to study effectively and try your best, you really can’t be too mad at yourself 😉


How do you prepare for finals and finals week? Share any of your study tips in the comments!

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  • Katlyn

    It is so important to have a favorite study spot. I know that if I don’t get to study in a certain spot that I like, I am far more likely to be distracted and not accomplish any real studying! These are some great tips. These are the study methods I personally use to ace my finals: http://www.collegiatecents.com/2017/01/07/how-to-get-good-grades-in-tough-college-classes/

    • Emma Lenhart

      Yes, completely agree! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • katy mueller

    stumbled across this while browsing pinterest, super great! I really like your style of writing 🙂

    http://www.runningoncoconut.com

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