Skip to content

Study tips for finals season

With finals season coming towards us, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to all you hardworking Yellowjackets & offer you some study tips that did wonders for me! There are many factors to acing your exams – it doesn’t solely depend on how well you prepare for your exam the night before, it also depends on where you study, the amount of sleep/rest, etc.


  • Make a study schedule

If you’re like me and have 2 exams, & 1 project due on the same day, then you need to plan out how much time you’re willing to spend on each subject. One way to do that is to rank each assignment based on priority and then allocate more hours to assignments with higher priority.


  • Plan ahead!

It’s no secret that every college student procrastinates. During my freshman year, I would only start assignments the night before but now as a rising senior, I try to study 2 weeks in advance for exams. I know it’s a long time in advance, but this is my tactic for accounting for procrastination, so if you don’t start 2 weeks in advance, you’ll at least start a week or 5 days before your exam (trust me, it will always be at the back of your mind until you start working on it). So start your homework early, it’s okay as long as you’re trying!


  • Active Recall Method

This is something I learned during my sophomore year, it’s a proven study technique where instead of just passively repeating information, you actively engage with it to remember key concepts and therefore you retrieve the information with much more ease. One popular application of this method is the spaced repetition which suggests that information is retained more when you study the material in intervals than all at once. This is why you should start early and take small chunks of material in at a time rather than cram the night before– this time it’s scientific!


  • The Feynman Technique 

You probably heard of this technique through the phrase “you truly master something once you can teach it to someone else.” When you teach it to someone else, you should try simplifying the material so that it’s easier to understand– but for this you need to fully understand the material you’re teaching so just fill in any gaps as you go! I’ve been doing this since freshman year for my psychology courses because the material was super interesting and I didn’t want my friends (who are in different fields) to miss out. When you’re teaching your friends, they may ask you questions which will make you think twice about the material you’re studying and it will solidify your memory. Try it out, it’s fun!


  • Draw it out!

This may sound like a waste of time but if you draw out your notes, it can enhance your memory. Drawing things out helps in visual representation and active engagement with the material. According to the principles of the dual coding theory, drawing combines visual representations with verbal explanations– which helps in solidifying memory. It also makes studying a bit more enjoyable than stressful (I hope)!


  • Stress Appraisal

When it comes to exams, we all stress a lot, regardless of how much we are prepared for them. I’m currently studying about stress appraisals & how stress can either help or sabotage us in my behavioral medicine class and the main takeaway I have for you all is that stress can also be positive. You might be stressed for exams, but you should understand that the way you view stress can impact your exam performance a lot! Just thinking of it as a challenge rather than a threat can boost up your exam scores– sometimes stressing about that exam helps you in performing better than just “not worrying” about the exam that much! 


  • Study locations

I always pick a semi-quiet or quiet study area because I get distracted too easily. As tempting as it may be, try not to study in your bedroom– especially your bed! Try to not get too comfortable while studying because you may fall asleep (I am obviously not speaking from experience)! Try to separate places for different activities – your room should be your safe space where you do relaxing activities and unwind at the end of a tiresome day, which is why it’s usually suggested to study somewhere else.


Note to prospective UR students: college is extremely different from high school, the academic load is a lot heavier and no one will force you to do anything, so you might be shocked during your first exam season if you don’t prepare well. Don’t worry, the transition between high school to college is definitely tough but manageable. With time & experience, you will know how to prepare for your exams the way that works best for you. Plus there are a number of helpful resources to ensure your success!

Check out some resources for Rochester students

I hope everyone has a super easy finals week, and that you ace your exams– oh and remember to get enough sleep (8 hours)! You got this, Yellowjackets– 2 more weeks and we’re all done!

Return to the top of the page