Study tips: The 21 best study tips for final exams (2023)

Final exams and major end-of-semester papers are among the most challenging aspects of the college experience. There's a lot to learn, organize and remember as you head into the finals. Following effective study tips can help reduce stress and increase your GPA.

Not all study techniques work for every student, so try some of these top study tips to find out which ones work best for you.

1. Make the most of class time

Attend all classes, pay close attention to lectures, and take notes in a way that makes sense to you. The goal is to be able to understand your notes when reviewing them later.

“Getting good grades means you pay more attention in class,” suggests Oliver, a Chinese international student atUniversity of Kansas. “When preparing for the exam, it will be a great help.” And if something doesn't make sense, raise your hand and ask, or write it down to follow up with your professor or assistant professor (aka TA) after class.

2. Study with colleagues

In addition to making friends, forming study groups in each of your classes is a valuable and fun way to revise for exams. Working together helps develop good study habits, increases collaboration on group projects, and builds confidence. “Find a partner to compare notes with,” adds Oliver. “You can work together, study together, help each other and push each other to be better.”

3. Take advantage of office hours

If you're having trouble with a concept or topic, your professors can help. Visit during office hours or email questions to your professor to better understand the class material, get helpful study tips on how to prepare for exams, orwrite a better essay. You'll also build a relationship with your instructor that can lead to valuable mentorship.

TIP: If it is written on the board, add it to your notes. It might just be on the test.

4. Crie flashcards

One of the top study tips for college students includes rewriting important facts, concepts, and definitions on flashcards. Flashcards also allow you to self-evaluate yourself without the help of others. Digital flashcards and study apps are another way to organize and review material.

5. Find a good place to study

Some people like the complete silence of a library, while others like the stimulation of a busy cafe. Some students prefer to sit at their desks to study, others prefer an outdoor study space in the sun.

A star student at KU, Oliver prefers a quiet place away from distractions. “At home, you'll want to sleep or play computer games,” he said. "So I'm going to the library to study." The best study environment for you is the one that feels most productive, so experiment with a few places to see what works best.

6. Change

Spending too much time on one topic can make you lose concentration. One of the most important study tips for college exams is to switch subjects every 30 minutes or so toprevent learning fatigue. Revisit challenging topics after giving your brain a break.

7. Read and proofread: early and often

According toEbbinghaus forgetting curve principle, we forget 70% of what we learn in 24 hours. Reviewing new ideas the day after class will help increase retention and understanding, so make time each night for a quick review. Divide the chapters into sections and review the material at the end of each section before continuing. Make notes summarizing critical aspects of the reading so you can easily review them without rereading entire chapters. Bookmark difficult sections to revisit later.

8. Stay organized

Scheduling class meetings, homework, assignments, projects, and study sessions is crucial to staying organized. Use a planner to keep track of deadlines, dates and times so you don't forget anything important. review yourclassroom programfor important dates and plan a study schedule that works for you.

9. Visualize o Material

Focus on the most important parts of your lecture notes, condensing the material and underlining or highlighting key words and concepts. Not a fan of traditional written notes? Try reformatting them into charts, diagrams,mental maps, or schematics for creating images that can help you understand complex concepts.

10. Find a tutor

Tutors are available on most college campuses and are usually peers who specialize or excel in a particular subject. If you are a student in aShorelight Associate University, talk to your student services advisor about ouracademic support servicesfor international students. Tutors are available in all subjects and we also offer ESL practice.

11. Focus on understanding

Memorizing means finding ways to remember and repeat facts. Understanding goes a little deeper and means you can apply new knowledge to various scenarios and learn how they relate to other concepts. College exams usually test comprehension, not just memorization.

12. Attend the review session

If your teacher or paraprofessional offers a pre-test review session before finals week, be sure to attend. This is where you can learn important information about the test format and what can be covered in the questions, as well as key topics to focus your studies on.

TIP: Final and intermediate exams tend to count a lot towards your final GPA, while classwork, assignments and tests tend to count less. Review your syllabus to find out how college exams will affect your final grade.

13. Stay Focused

Keeping your mind focused can be as simple as taking a break from your phone and friends. Put on instrumental music or noise canceling headphones and put your phone in airplane mode to help you focus on your studies.

14. Take breaks

Give your brain and body a chance to cool down so you can tackle the material with energy and focus.According to Oxford Learning, “For every 30 minutes of studying, take a short 10-15 minute break to recharge. Short study sessions are more effective and help you make the most of your study time.” So get up, stretch your legs and get some fresh air before getting back to your books.

TIP: Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which can give you more energy and better understanding. A yoga or stretching session can help with concentration and focus.

15. Take care of yourself

Eating junk food to save time isn't the smartest strategy for studying. Instead, eat a balanced diet of "brain foods" such as fresh fruits and vegetables balanced with protein and healthy fats to fuel your mind. The same goes for sleep: plan on getting plenty of rest the night before the exam.

16. Control your own pace

Concentrating on all your studies during finals week can lead to burnout and anxiety. Break the material down into bullet points and go through it in steps to fully absorb the information and gain a real understanding (see tip 11). The night before, jot down some key ideas to review before the test.

If you take a one-hour class, you'll need to take an extra two hours out of class to study. So if you're studying 15 hours a week, you need 30 hours for after-school studying." –Oliver, University of Kansas

17. Take the right approach

Different types of university exams require different approaches to study. Multiple choice means focusing on definitions and concepts. Writing tests require you to demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the material. Ask your professor about the exam format to learn how to prepare.

18. Learn by teaching others

Explaining concepts to a classmate is a great way to make sure you really understand the material and to help them learn too. When you find new ways to explain a concept, you are mastering the information by processing it for others.

19. Have fun with words

Breaking the material down into small chunks and creating acronyms, phrases, rhymes, or metaphors can be a valuable and fun way to memorize concepts. For example, students studying trading strategies will remember acronyms like “POGO squints”:

PAGperformance goals


GRAMSglobal factors

Oovercoming resistance to change

Ssupply chain management

Whatquality management

EUinventory management

nortedesign and development of new products/services


No matter how silly you are, this method can help you remember important concepts for your exams. Share your useful acronyms and rhymes with your study group to give other students interesting and unexpected study skills.

20. Test your knowledge

Once you know the format, try to create a practice test based on what you think the test might cover. This will help you understand the material on a deeper level and guide you in what you should study. You can then use your practice test to assess yourself and your study group.

21. Reward

Good study habits are hard work! Enjoy breaks and small rewards to keep going. Healthy snacks, good walks outside or even an episode of your favorite TV show are great ways to keep you motivated.

Knowing your own effective study strategies is the key to success in your college career and will also help you with career projects and graduate presentations. Finding the study tips that work best for you will save you time and energy and get you the best results.

Ask a Shorelight Consultantabout academic support services for international students >


Study tips: The 21 best study tips for final exams? ›

One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practice taking past versions. This helps you get used to the format of the questions, and - if you time yourself - can also be good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.

What is the most efficient way to study for the final exam? ›

One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practice taking past versions. This helps you get used to the format of the questions, and - if you time yourself - can also be good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.

How to study for finals tips? ›

Our favorite study tips will help you better prepare for final exams.
  1. Don't Cram. Cramming in all your studying can lead to burnout and anxiety. ...
  2. Take Good Notes. ...
  3. Use the Buddy System. ...
  4. Attend the Review/Use the Study Guide. ...
  5. Find Your Go-to Study Spot. ...
  6. Use Visual Tools. ...
  7. Take Breaks. ...
  8. Plan Ahead.
Dec 7, 2022

How do you memorize for a final exam? ›

To make the most of your flashcards, maintain a fairly large deck of flashcards and avoid passively reading through the cards. Instead, pause to test your memory before checking the answer. Then, leave each card in your deck until you have successfully recalled it multiple times; once or twice is not enough!

How many hours a day should you study for a final exam? ›

A general rule is to spend two hours on homework or studying for every hour that your class meets. For example, if your economics class meets for an hour, three times a week, you might expect to spend six hours a week on homework or studying for your upcoming econ exams.

What's the best study method? ›

One of the most impactful learning strategies is “distributed practice”—spacing out your studying over several short periods of time over several days and weeks (Newport, 2007). The most effective practice is to work a short time on each class every day.

What are the best study hacks? ›

Forget what you think you know and get stuck into these exam study hacks instead.
  • Find a study space. ...
  • Short study sessions. ...
  • Put music on. ...
  • Explain the subject to someone. ...
  • Deeply question your subject. ...
  • Create concept or mind maps. ...
  • Beat procrastination in just five minutes. ...
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation.
Sep 6, 2022

How can I focus 100% on study? ›

7 tips for staying organised and focused while studying
  1. Make a plan. ...
  2. Create a relaxed study environment. ...
  3. Take regular breaks. ...
  4. Don't get distracted by social media. ...
  5. Drink plenty of water and eat well. ...
  6. Reward yourself. ...
  7. Don't do all-nighters, you will regret it!

What is the 20 rule for studying? ›

Simply put, 20% or less of the studying you are doing is leading to the majority of your results. Furthermore, 20% or less of your course content comprises the majority of the content on your exams. Remember, professors (whether they know it or not) are applying the 80-20 rule to their exams.

How can I force myself to study for the finals? ›

Here are a few tips to help you stay motivated through the end of the semester.
  1. Recharge. Long days of studying and preparing for finals can leave us feeling drained. ...
  2. Evaluate your expectations. ...
  3. Take breaks. ...
  4. Listen to your body. ...
  5. Avoid comparing stress. ...
  6. Ask for help. ...
  7. Remember this is temporary.

How can I study on my own? ›

Here are some tips for practicing successful self-studying:
  1. Set realistic goals. ...
  2. Find what works for you. ...
  3. Review material the same day you learn it. ...
  4. Study in short, frequent sessions. ...
  5. Prepare and maintain your study environment.

What is the 7 3 2 1 study method? ›

What is the 7–3–2–1 method? It simply means 7 days, 3 days, 2 days, and today. Let's say you learned something you want to remember in the long-run. Now, what you should do is read it today (1), tomorrow (2), the day after tomorrow (3), and then on the 7th day from your first reading (7).

How to study faster? ›

How to learn faster: 5 ways to tune your brain for new things
  1. Learning quickly gives you a great competitive edge for personal and professional development. ...
  2. Teach others (or just pretend)
  3. Make breaks. ...
  4. Take notes by hand.
  5. Don't be afraid to take a nap!
  6. Use different study methods.

How can I understand things faster? ›

8 Powerful Tricks That Make You Grasp New Concepts Faster
  1. 1) Use mental associations. ...
  2. 2) Apply the 80/20 principle. ...
  3. 3) Break it down. ...
  4. 4) Write it down. ...
  5. 5) Connect existing knowledge. ...
  6. 6) Try Brain exercises. ...
  7. 7) Learn your way. ...
  8. 8) Teach other people.
Mar 17, 2017

What is the 2 3 5 7 revision rule? ›

Revise a topic, then revisit it the next day, after three days, and after seven days. This is thought to be the perfect amount of time to help your brain remember information.

What is the best time of day to study? ›

Best time to study according to science

According to science, there are two windows of time the brain is most receptive to new material: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

How many hours can a human brain study? ›


The human brain is able to focus up to two hours, after which it needs a 20-30 minute break. The average American spends about 9 hours a day at work. According to the NeuroLeadership Institute, work focus equals about 6 hours a week.

What is the strongest type of study? ›

Systematic reviews are generally considered as the strongest form of evidence as they summarise and synthesise the findings of multiple studies identified in comprehensive, systematic literature searches.

What is the 80 20 rule in studying? ›

How Does The 80/20 Rule Apply To Our Studies? When we are looking at this principle in relation to our education, the primary factor we should consider is that 20% of the time you spend studying will be leading to 80% of the results you see.

What is the 1 2 3 study method? ›

To try this technique, review your material in spaced intervals similar to the schedule below: Day 1: Learn the material in class. Day 2: Revisit and review. Day 3: Revisit and review.

How can I improve my memory before an exam? ›

Simple memory tips and tricks
  1. Try to understand the information first. Information that is organized and makes sense to you is easier to memorize. ...
  2. Link it. ...
  3. Sleep on it. ...
  4. Self-test. ...
  5. Use distributed practice. ...
  6. Write it out. ...
  7. Create meaningful groups. ...
  8. Use mnemonics.

What is the secret of studying? ›

If we had only one sentence to tell you the secret, it would be this: The secret to doing well is testing yourself on what you've studied — asking yourself questions, retrieving the answers, going back and restudying what you didn't know, and testing yourself again and again until you learn the material.

What is the coolest thing to study? ›

30 fun majors
  • Auctioneering. This focused degree prepares you for a career in auctions, sales and marketing. ...
  • Costume technology. ...
  • 7. Entertainment design. ...
  • Fermentation sciences. ...
  • Golf course management. ...
  • Jazz studies. ...
  • Nautical archaeology. ...
  • Pop culture.
Mar 10, 2023

How can I concentrate my mind? ›

15 Ways to improve your concentration
  1. Eliminate distractions. How do we focus better if we are always bombarded with information? ...
  2. Reduce multitasking. ...
  3. Practice mindfulness and meditation. ...
  4. Get more sleep. ...
  5. Choose to focus on the moment. ...
  6. Take a short break. ...
  7. Connect with nature. ...
  8. Train your brain.
Apr 7, 2023

Why can't I concentrate while studying? ›

Trouble concentrating can relate to things going on around you. Common causes include interruptions from co-workers, distractions from your roommates or family members, or social media notifications. But it's also possible for concentration difficulties to relate to underlying mental or physical health conditions.

Why am I not able to study? ›

Low motivation may be experienced either for certain subjects, or across the board; some of the common causes of it include: You are tired and stressed, with too much to do. There are other, more interesting things to do. You find the subject boring, or don't enjoy it for some other reason.

What is the 50 10 rule for studying? ›

The 50/10 Rule mandates that you stay on task when studying during the 50 minutes, then go on a multitasking, multimedia bender during your 10-minute break. Mix and repeat.

What is the 45 study rule? ›

One way is to study smarter! According to an article in the Huffington Post, it is recommended that students take mental breaks approximately every 45 minutes. This is due to the fact that the brain is only able to maintain true focus for around 45 minutes before it begins to lose steam.

What is the 15 5 study rule? ›

If you're feeling a lot of mental resistance, or you just can't get yourself to stay focused for 25 minutes, try a 15-, 10-, or even 5-minute pomodoro. For most people most of the time, the sweet spot will be in the 25-50 minute range for peak concentration with a 5-15 minute break.

Why am I so lazy and unmotivated to study? ›

You could be feeling the effects of difficulties in your family or the world at large. Maybe you're having a hard time focusing or feel like your goals are too far away. It's normal to feel unmotivated sometimes, and you'll deal with that feeling off and on throughout your whole life.

How do I get my brain ready for studying? ›

7 Ways to Boost Brain Power While Studying
  1. Fit in some exercise a few times a week. ...
  2. Get creative. ...
  3. Stock up on your vitamins and micronutrients. ...
  4. Socialize. ...
  5. Allow yourself to power nap. ...
  6. Break out of your daily routine. ...
  7. Try something new.

Why does my brain refuses to study? ›

One of the biggest causes of mental blocks is a lack of focus and feeling overwhelmed. If you're feeling tired, stressed, or anxious this can all contribute to a lack of motivation. Throughout your studies it can be easy to compare yourself to others, but you shouldn't.

Are flashcards a good way to study? ›

Flashcards are effective because they promote active recall in your brain, which is the process by which we retrieve a memory. Seeing a term and then actively attempting to remember the meaning helps to move it from short-term to long-term memory.

What are the 7 types of effective study habits? ›

Here are 7 effective study habits that are essential for students of all ages.
  • Establish a study area at home.
  • Communicate with the teacher.
  • Keep assignments organized.
  • Avoid procrastination.
  • Take notes in class.
  • Highlight key concepts in the reading materials.
  • Prepare your book-bag before going to bed.

What is the Puma study method? ›

Modifying and Adding (PUMA) is a teaching-learning model that focuses on communication among students rather than emphasizing programming language grammar in an online education platform. The Network-based PUMA model consists of four steps: preparing, un-coding, modifying and adding.

What is the 50 50 method for studying? ›

While understanding and learning a person tends to finish the concepts in one-go, but in case of the rule; one should learn for half of the time and share what they have learned in the other half. Sharing can be in anyway. The learner can write the key points, or can explain to someone a friend, or a family member.

What are the three most effective study strategies? ›

3 Successful Study Techniques
  • Taking notes by hand. Since we live in such a technological age, some people might be surprised to know that it helps me to handwrite my notes. ...
  • Having a quiet place to study. ...
  • Read, write, recite.

What is the most easiest way to study? ›

10 tips on how to study effectively
  • Get organised.
  • Don't skip class!
  • Take notes.
  • Talk to your teacher & ask questions.
  • Space out your studying.
  • Create a study plan – & stick to it.
  • Don't just re-read but study.
  • Set up a quiet study space.

How can I learn 10X faster? ›

Just so you don't waste your time on memory tips that are NOT going to 10X your memory...
  1. Eat right.
  2. Drink water.
  3. Get a good night's sleep.
  4. Take Omega-3.
  5. Meditate.
  6. Exercise.
  7. Learn a new skill.
  8. Socialize.

What is the fastest way to read and understand? ›

How to Improve Your Speed Reading
  1. Avoid distractions. ...
  2. Go easy. ...
  3. Cover words that you've already read. ...
  4. Know what you want from the text. ...
  5. Benchmark your progress. ...
  6. Practice, practice, practice.

Why am I slow to understand things? ›

It might be related to other physical problems such as lack of adequate sleep or reaction to medications. It might also be part of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disorders, and/or emotional factors. We'll take a look at some of these possible causes.

How can I learn faster and smarter? ›

25 Tricks to Study Faster and More Effectively
  1. Never Cram. There is no such thing as an effective cramming. ...
  2. Manage your time. Why do you cram? ...
  3. Practice Interlinking Ideas. Impossible you say? ...
  4. Make Diagrams. ...
  5. Set up your own Mnemonics. ...
  6. Learn to Visualize. ...
  7. Retell the Story. ...
  8. Take notes.

Which would be the most effective way to study for a final exam quizlet? ›

Start early. If you always start ahead of schedule, you'll never be cramming the night before an exam. You'll almost always perform better in doing so! Attend the review session.

Is 2 weeks enough to study for final exams? ›

Study groups and asking your teacher for advice also helps. Two weeks is a short amount of time, but if you really stick to your schedule you'll be fine! Just don't overwork yourself because sleep is extremely important, especially before an exam!

How to study for a final exam in 5 days? ›

  1. 5 – DAY STUDY PLAN.
  2. • Space Learning.
  3. • Divide the material.
  4. Use Active Preparation. Strategies - ICOW–
  5. Identify, Condense, Organize, & Write what you need to learn. ...
  6. Use Active Review. Strategies – RE-USE –
  7. Rehearse, Extend, Understand, Self-test, & Evaluate your. ...
  8. Sample 5-Day Study Plan for exam on Monday.

How can I study for final exam in 24 hours? ›

These six steps will help you study for an exam in 24 hours or less.
  1. Make a list of important terms, concepts, and ideas.
  2. Look for summaries in the textbook.
  3. Make more notes as you go.
  4. Make use of mind maps, charts, and graphs.
  5. Teach a friend.
  6. Review your important terms lists.
  7. Study out of order.
  8. Take practice tests.
Jun 13, 2022

What is the most important test taking strategy? ›

Taking practice exams before taking a real test is a helpful test-taking strategy. Practice exams give you insight into the type of questions you may answer on the test and can help you determine your areas of improvement.

How to pass a multiple choice test without knowing anything? ›

Here are a few of Poundstone's tactics for outsmarting any multiple-choice test:
  1. Ignore conventional wisdom. ...
  2. Look at the surrounding answers. ...
  3. Choose the longest answer. ...
  4. Eliminate the outliers.
Jun 26, 2015

How many days before a final should you study? ›

Ideally, studying should start at least five days in advance of the exam to allow students an ample amount of time to go over course concepts and materials, and reach out to their instructor or peers if they find they have any questions.

How many days before finals should I start studying? ›

Start studying for finals a few weeks before the first exam, and figure out how much time to set aside each day for each subject. Be realistic about how long it will take to, say, memorize the dates for all the Civil War battles. You need to fit in brain breaks, too!

What's the best time to study? ›

Best time to study according to science

According to science, there are two windows of time the brain is most receptive to new material: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

What is the fastest way to memorize exams for last minute? ›

How to master the last-minute study
  1. Mix up your study environment. A cosy cafe setting might suit you if you need your caffeine fix while cramming for an exam. ...
  2. Skip the textbooks. ...
  3. Resist the urge to use social media. ...
  4. Organise your time. ...
  5. Read it out loud. ...
  6. Don't Panic. ...
  7. Have a good night's sleep.
Mar 14, 2017

What is the five day study plan? ›

On Days 1-4 you will prepare one section of material (preparation strategies from previous page). On Days 2-5 you will review the material you prepared the day(s) before (review strategies from previous page). On Day 5 you will only review and then self-test over all material.

How can I study fast without forgetting? ›

Simple memory tips and tricks
  1. Try to understand the information first. Information that is organized and makes sense to you is easier to memorize. ...
  2. Link it. ...
  3. Sleep on it. ...
  4. Self-test. ...
  5. Use distributed practice. ...
  6. Write it out. ...
  7. Create meaningful groups. ...
  8. Use mnemonics.

What not to do before an exam? ›

What Should You NOT Do Before An Exam?
  1. Putting off studying until the last minute.
  2. Over-cramming the night before the exam.
  3. Over-caffeinating the night before the exam.
  4. Not taking adequate notes during lectures.
  5. Studying by myself.
  6. Walking in blind to the exam.
  7. Go to sleep at different, inconsistent times every night.

Should I study the night before an exam? ›

Going hand in hand with getting good sleep, don't pressure yourself to stay up all night to study. Studying late may burn you out and make you more anxious, so set a good cut-off time so that you have time for a healthy dinner with some time to wind down and relax before bed.


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