How to Study for a Comprehensive Final Exam

25 Apr

-Tough break.  Some teacher assigned not only a final exam, but a comprehensive one.  There will be no cramming, procrastination, or last-minute prep for this one.  Best advice–START EARLY, THINK AHEAD, BREAK TASKS INTO MANAGEABLE CHUNKS.

-Hopefully, you have been preparing all semester by attending class (and paying attention and taking good notes when you do), but also by making flashcards of vocab and study sheets for concepts the entire time.  These are imperative come final exam time, b/c then you don’t have to waste time looking through a notebook full of notes or a thousand power point slides to try to decide what will be important.  Chunk information during the whole class.

-Look at your overall grade and determine the minimum grade you need to achieve on the final.

-Count how many days until the exam.  Subtract 2 days (1 rest, 1 over-all review).  Divide the course material by that number.  Review each segment of information every day.

Exp:  I have 16 days, including today, until my final.  Subtracting 2 leaves me 14.  I have to get through 12(?) note sections.  So 12/14 = 85.7 notes/day = 86% of each section per day.  After dropping my lowest quiz score, I think I have a 99% in the class.  Percentages, points, weighted scores–who knows?  That percentage might not be accurate.  Based on that (possibly erroneous  number, I need 26 points to keep an A+ I think that’s about an 87% on the final.  Again, that number is also a maybe.  No one knows how many questions are on the final, so I’m not sure how many I can miss. . .

-Wow–that was a lot of number-crunching for finals week.  My brain is now (more) tired.  And possibly MORE confused.  I spose (that’s an example of lexical syncopation, P.S.:  Top-down + usage frequency, cohort, and Neighborhood Activation model to be specific).  Anyway, I suppose it doesn’t matter what I need to get on the exam–it doesn’t really change my study-situation since I have just the one (thank GOD) final and don’t have to prioritize classes.

-Study in a spot where all supplies, materials, notes, and sources and within reach.

-That said, vary it up (sometimes) by talking flashcards outside, studying notes on the treadmill, or memorizing as a passenger in the car.  Your brain won’t feel as fatigued if you change it up slightly.  Also, physical activity just helps.

-Study in increments, with breaks in between.  This is a break right now.  Keep them short though.

-Have a beverage and healthy snack nearby.

-Don’t start at the beginning–start with the section you did worst on.  Give yourself MOST time for concepts that you have a difficult time with.

-Look at old tests.  Your instructor is probably not going to deviate too much from the formatting of those questions.  And you might get lucky and get an exactly repeated question.

-Study the questions AND wrong answers.  Make sure you know WHY the correct answers are right, and especially WHY you missed other questions.

-Give yourself a better neumonic (is this with a “p” like pneumonia?) for questions you missed.  Draw the Q & A so you can visualize what it’s supposed to be.

-Don’t ignore questions you got right–look them over, at a faster pace of course, and make sure you really understand them.

-Hardest of all, don’t quit too early.  Keep your brain alive and functional right through test day.  As part of this, keep paper & pen near your study location.  As intrusive thoughts come into your head, write them down so every piece of your brain can focus on the material.  Cleaning, to-do tasks, and chores pop into my head while I study, so I jot them on the calendar (for post-exam) so my brain doesn’t work to remember something extraneous.

-Obviously, follow the basic testing tips I’ve written about before, but still do not know how to attach to new blog posts.

OK, my study break is over, but you got the jist.  And I’ll be back soon 🙂


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