final exam

How to Study or Methods of Learning

I work as a tutor for a year now, and I noticed that many students know only one way to study for an exam: flash cards. They come to me with a pile of hundreds of flashcards and tell me that this is the only way works for them. I probably could write another post about how much I don’t like flash cards but it’s a different story…

Here I want to list all kinds of study methods that I found helpful after three years in college

1.      Rewrite notes

Many professors now upload copies of the notes or PowerPoints. If they don’t do this, you can use your own notes or a student book. One of the study methods is to rewrite those notes. That doesn’t mean that you need to rewrite word by word, it’s the opposite. The purpose of this technique is to analyze the material, put it in your own words, organize it as you want, and then write it down. Never rewrite information when you don’t understand it, it defeats the whole purpose.

2.      Make diagrams, tables, and trees

You can’t use these visuals to study everything, however, they’re extremely helpful to remember complicated concepts and processes. I draw them in my notes and sometimes redraw them on a draft paper multiple times if a concept is very hard to remember.

3.      Use other visuals

If you can’t create your own diagrams, you can look for them on the Internet or use visual resources like Crash Course and Khan Academy

4.      Teach your friend

As a tutor, I teach many students.  Teaching others helps to remember any material and even understand it better. It works because you talk about a subject aloud and you force your brain to recall information as fast as possible. You don’t have to be a tutor to do this. You can teach anyone: your friend, sibling, mother, or you can pretend that you teach someone. This method is also great because it uncovers all hidden parts that you didn’t know you don’t understand/remember.

5.      Imagine what you study

Most people probably do it on an intuitive level, but there are some students that don’t do it. You can incorporate this method while you’re reading or rewriting notes. I always imagine different processes in my head. For example, how molecules collapse and interact with each other or how gases diffuse from alveoli into capillaries. I kinda create “a movie” in my mind. It’s fun!

6.      Read out loud

It doesn’t work for me, but I know it does for some.


Finals are killing me. Here’s a few motivational Hamilton drawings for anyone else in Final hell. I hope you all do great on your exams by the way! 

How To Study For Final Exams?

The secret for a successful final exam preparation is a plan! After three years of college, I developed a strategy for an effective final exam study session. Here it is:

1. How much time do you have left?

The very first step is to determine how much time is left and how much material you need to cover during this period. 

  • Count how many days you have left before the final (e.g. 6 days)
  • Count how many chapters and sections in this chapters you need to study (e.g. 4 chapters with 5 sections in each => 4 ch x 5 sec = you have 20 sections in total)
  • You need to spread 20 sections through 5 days and leave 1 last day for a total review. Here you have 4 sections per day. 
  • If your chapters are not broken down into sections you can either break them down into sections yourself or just use the number of chapters. You can also use the number of points in your study guide if you have one.

I like this strategy because it customizes a study plan for any class and time you have left.When I know what I need to finish every day in order to kill this final, it makes me less stressed and more motivated.  

2. Determine what you know and what you don’t know

  • Let’s use your time efficiently. Don’t waste your time on what you already know, focus on information that you don’t understand or don’t remember. 
  • If you have a study guide, look through it and circle points that you can’t answer from the top of your head. 
  • If you don’t have a study guide, go over your notes or your student book, and analyze the material. Write down the topics that you’re not 100% confident about (you don’t have to be specific here, just make a simple outline). That’s gonna be your personal study guide.

3. Study Plan

When you know how much you need to study every day, you need to create a study plan. The study plan includes what do you need to do with all this material. It can be reading, rewriting notes, practicing problems, memorizing formulas, and etc. As you can see, the study plan will depend on the class and the chapter. 

To create a study plan write down what you need to do every day. 

E.g. Day 1: you need to finish reading 4 sections, rewriting and memorizing definitions you don’t know yet, then you need to practice 2 problems per section. 

Do this sort of thing for every day and for every class you have a final for, and this is gonna be your final exam study plan. 

4. Track your progress

  • It’ll motivate you
  • It’ll make you feel accomplished
  • It’ll make you stay on track every day

I usually track my progress crossing out the number of sections I’ve done. I draw it as a “download bar”. 

Every class is different so they will have a different amount of material. 

5. Switch subjects

Don’t study for one class 5 hours in a row! Switch subjects, give yourself a break, eat.. There’s a Pomodoro technique when you study for about 30 minutes and then have a 5-minute break, and then study for 30 minutes.  

For me, 30 minutes isn’t enough for one study session. I usually study 1 hour and then have a break or I finish 1-2 sections (depending on their size), and then have a break and move on to another subject. 

Grading a slew of mediocre final papers, the grad student watches his months of arduous teaching bear little fruit.