Don’t Cram for the Exam: 9 Ways to Study Effectively for Finals

  • April 24th, 2018

By Tory Hyde

As the semester wraps up, finals are quickly catching up to us. UA’s Center for Academic Success suggests these tips to help you succeed.

Studying in the library can help you focus.

1 Make sure you stay organized.

Be sure to write your exam schedule in your phone planner. Set alarms and reminders to make sure you don’t forget important dates and times. Have all of your notes ready to go for each test so you have them available when you want to study.

2 Talk to your professor before studying and use the study guide.

Professors often give students study guides to help them prepare for an exam. However, it is also a good idea to reach out to your professors after class or during office hours if you have questions about certain topics. This way, you will have a better understanding of the material. If your professors don’t offer a study guide, don’t be afraid to ask them what concepts are most important. Talking to your professors before the exam will also show them that you care and are taking the right steps to succeed.  

3 Start studying at least a week before your final exam.

The earlier you start studying, the better prepared you will be. Reviewing large groups of information over a longer period of time helps you retain the information longer. Start creating your study materials — flashcards, notes, etc. — ahead of time so you can review them a little bit everyday leading up to the exam. This technique also will make studying seem less overwhelming. Procrastinating might be tempting at first, but it will only lead to stress in the end.

4 Don’t cram for your exam.   

Every student is guilty of cramming for a test at some point in time. But in college it’s more likely that the material you are learning will be important for you to know in your future career. Cramming only allows you to retain information for a short amount of time; you will likely forget it in the long run.

Group study can reinforce learning.

5 Grab a study buddy.

For tests that are more content-based, it can be helpful to study with a classmate or a group of people in the same course. This way, you can go over the topics together and quiz and teach each other the material. Oftentimes, teaching others what you know can help you understand it better.

6 Study in a quiet space with limited distractions.

When studying for finals, concentration is key. You don’t want to be in a place where you can easily procrastinate or get distracted by the noises around you. There are four main libraries on campus that are great places to study. In Gorgas Library, each floor gets quieter as you go up. Bruno Business Library, the McLure Education Library and Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering are also available. Check the UA Libraries website to see hours of operation for each location.

7 Use UA’s Center for Academic Success.

The Center for Academic Success strives to help undergraduate students improve in their classes at UA, learn good study habits and improve reading skills. The center also offers tutoring for students preparing to take professional tests such as the GRE, MCAT and LSAT. To find out more about the Center for Academic Success, click here.

8 Break up your study session into groups.

Take a couple minutes to decide what you want to cover during your study session. Spend about an hour going over the material and covering it, then take a 15-minute break to reward yourself. After you have taken some down time, come back to your work and make sure you remember what you have reviewed.

9 Look over your notes right before you take the exam.

When preparing for your exam, it can be helpful to rewrite your notes or the topics you have the most trouble with. Later, you can briefly look over them to refresh your memory right  before you walk in to take the test.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.