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Plan Ahead: Studying for Finals

TIP Sheet



Part One -- Course Outline

Plan for final examinations in the subjects you are taking at the present time. Apply the survey, which follows, to each of your courses. You can really make a procedure like this work for you. It will eliminate worries about unknown factors, with many cases, and do away with examination jitters. Select one class you presently are enrolled in and complete this form.









Course Analysis:


Major goals set for term:











Major points covered in textbook assignments:











Major points stressed in lectures:











Additional Content Analysis: This should include special projects, field trips, special films, research papers, book reviews, and so forth, especially as they relate to major goals and major points above.








Analysis of Instructor:



Have his/her exams been based on major themes or specific details? (circle one)

Can his/her questions be taken at face value or do you have to look deeper? (circle one)

Has the instructor spent extended lengths of time on any special topic? You must weight your study time accordingly.

Does he/she test mostly from text or lecture or both? (circle one)




Nature of final examination:





Number of questions?

Time allotted?

Are all questions of equal value?




Number of true-false questions?




Question point differences?


Any special preparation needed?


Notes allowed?

Study guide given?

Practice test?

Questions in textbook?



On the basis of the above analysis, how many hours do you think should be allowed to complete a thorough review?

How many weeks left in the term?

How many hours should you spend per week now in addition to your regular assignments for this subject?


{Adapted from: Maxwell H. Norman, Successful Reading Key to Our Dynamic Society (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. 1968.)}


Part Two -- Make a Schedule and Set Priorities

Make sure that-you have read all assigned materials. Do not wait until the night before the final to do this! Use the form below to help you do this.

After you have read everything, follow these instructions:


See how much you already know before trying to study everything.

Take one chapter at a time!

Preview the chapter.

Close your book and do the following:



Jot down on a piece of paper the title of the chapter and all of the major topics that are in the chapter which you can remember. Then write down everything about the topics that you can remember. THIS IS WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW SO DON'T WASTE TIME STUDYING.



Chapter 4 Title:




Subheading One:












Subheading Two:












o Open your textbook and compare your notes from above with the text.

What important topics did you leave out? Write these down on your paper.

What bits of information did you leave out about the topics? Are these important for you to remember? How do these relate to the topic? How do these relate to the Chapter? Write these down!

Look at your class notes for this chapter. Do the same as above.




After doing this for each chapter that will be covered on the final, fold your paper so that only the topics of each chapter are showing.


Before looking at your topics, how many can you recall?

Study those things that you left out. This is what you don't know.

Ask yourself questions. "What can I do to remember this?" "How do the bits of material relate to the subheadings?" "How does each subheading relate to the chapter?" "What difference does this information make to the subject?" "Why is it important?"




Part Three -- A 10-Point Plan to Live Through Finals

Know when and where the exam is given. You would be surprised how many students miss their final because of some kind of scheduling mix up.

Plan your study time. If you only have so much time to learn all of American History, Calculus and Biology, you should use the time to your best advantage. Make a study chart giving so much time to each subject.

Break up your subjects. You can't concentrate on one subject for hours on end, so drop it and spend some time on another subject, then return to the original subject.

Reward yourself. For every hour of real studying (this does not include rereading the same sentence 15 times) give yourself a 10-minute break

Be good to yourself. Eat well, dress well, and sleep as much as possible. During your study breaks be sure to do something that you enjoy.

Don't depend on Study Groups. Group study is only beneficial when you and the others have already studied the material individually. Be careful not to be the only one who has read the material -- others may take advantage of your knowledge and not do their own work.

Study what is important. Use the syllabus, earlier tests and your own impressions to determine what the instructor wants you to learn from the course. Chances are it is this "important" material which will be on the test.

Ask yourself questions. Simply reading and rereading the information will drive you nuts! Make up questions as you go, then put down the book and answer them.

Study Backwards. You are most liable to forget what was taught at the beginning of the quarter/semester. It is best to begin studying the most recent material and move backward; this way you study the early information just before the test.

Relax for the half-hour just before the test. Talk to a friend, eat a sundae, or run around the drill field screaming. Just do whatever it takes to relax!








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