5 Tricks from the Pros to Ace Your Final Exams

Every college student dreads the same week every semester—finals week. It’s stressful just thinking about the fact that one test can affect your entire grade.

It can be difficult to figure out what study methods work best for you per class. But it’s not as complicated as you may think. The way to head into finals week is to find the specific studying method that works for you.

To do as best as you can on your final exams, you’ll need to test a few studying methods to figure out which one is right for you. Check out these five tricks from the pros to help you ace your final exams.

1. Create a Study Schedule

Forget the calendar app on your phone or laptop. Sometimes the best way to create a schedule is with good old-fashioned pen and paper. Writing out a schedule in a block calendar format can help you visualize your workload for each class.

Seeing your to-do list on paper can help you arrange your time. It also makes it easier to notice items you may have missed.

Blocking out your time makes it easy to see how much time you’re spending on each task. It will help you to divide your time as needed and create a specific start date for each task involved. With a block calendar, you can devote time to prepping for each class or test.

2. Study with a Friend

This method is tricky because when you get together with friends, it’s easy to get distracted. Unless you’re disciplined, a study session with friends can become unproductive fast.

If you want to study with a group, make sure that the other members understand accountability. It’s up to every member to make their best effort to ensure the study group is the most productive it can be.

It’s ideal if you can find a study partner in the same class as you. You can share lecture notes, ask each other questions, and come up with a game plan. Bouncing ideas off a fellow classmate is a great way to prepare for an important test.

3. Make It Hard To Access Distractions

During finals week, your biggest concern can’t be the number of likes on your latest Instagram post. Finals week is the time to sequester yourself from social media.

It’s the time to be productive. You may have to forgo texting, watching videos, and online shopping for a few days, but it’ll be worth it.

Put your phone on Do Not Disturb and don’t feel guilty about it. Believe it or not, life will go on if you don’t check your texts every ten minutes. Resist using your laptop unless you have to look something up online or access your lecture notes.

If you can’t fully break away from your online addiction, download the productivity app Forest. With Forest, you can set a timer for how long you want to go without touching your phone.

It starts by “planting a tree” and when you exit the app to open another, the tree dies. But if you leave your phone be, your tree will grow. The point is to plant a whole forest of trees and earn virtual coins. You can then use those coins to plant trees in real life.

4. Reward Yourself

Make finals week a little less stressful by rewarding yourself after study sessions. Taking a break after an extended period of studying can boost your productivity.

Reward yourself by taking a long break, taking a nap, or grabbing an ice-cream cone. If you can opt for a healthy snack in place of an ice-cream treat, bonus points for you!

If you have the discipline to stick to a strict study schedule, reward yourself with a little treat. Think of Pavlov’s dogs. By learning the proper behavior you get a reward that will make you want to repeat the behavior again.

This concept is a proven motivator, and it’s a skill you can use throughout college and beyond.

5. Make a Detailed Study Guide

It’s no secret that detailed lecture notes are the secret weapon to exam success. But when we say study guide, we’re not talking about a basic outline of what the test might cover.

We’re talking about a lengthy, detailed outline of everything you’ve covered in class. Your outline should literally detail everything you might need to know for the test.

Ask a few of your classmates to get together for a few hours to create a master study guide. You can organize and compare notes as well as create a list of everything covered in class.

A thorough study guide can be beneficial to all involved. It may even help you remember topics you may have forgotten about or topics you need to review further.

The last thing you want is to be in the middle of the exam and remember that you forgot to review a section. With a master study guide and the help of fellow classmates, you can make sure that nothing is overlooked.


Studying for final exams can be stressful. The best way to avoid that stress is to be all-in on the class from the beginning of the semester to the very end. But even if you’re committed from day one, you’ll need to devote study time to review everything you’ve learned.

Create a study schedule. Enlist the help of classmates and friends for joint study sessions. Learn how to discipline yourself and avoid distractions.

Make a detailed study guide that covers all the important topics discussed in class. And don’t forget to reward yourself. If you’re studying hard, you deserve some time to relax, nap, or go to dinner with friends.

The trick is to figure out the study methods that work best for you. If you can do that, you’re sure to ace your final exams every semester from now until graduation!

Taylor Nelson currently works as a property manager at Metro at Fireclay, a brand new apartment community located in Salt Lake City that is located right next to TRAX. Taylor loves working on a wide variety of projects, and spends as much of her free time as possible with her French Bulldog named Louie.


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