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Preparing for Online Final Exams

Preparing for Online Final Exams

As the end of the semester approaches, so does the dreaded finals season. Exams can cause stress and online exams may be unfamiliar to many students. Here are some tips to ensure the year ends smoothly.

Get to know your exam and make a plan

It may seem simple, but think about the way the exam has been presented, particularly on the syllabus. Does the professor say what will be covered? Will the exam be timed?  What kinds of responses will you be required to make?  Knowing the amount of material and the intricacy of the responses you will have to make will help you determine how much time you will need to prepare.  Double check the exam time and date and then write your study plan by counting backward from that date and accounting for any other commitments you have from family, friends, work, and school.

Studying tips

Reviewing notes and lecture content is always a safe place to start to study for an exam. However, it is important to make sure you are learning the concepts and not memorizing words. To help combat this, try teaching the material to a friend or family member. 

Additionally, organizing notes and content into separate sections based on your familiarity and knowledge may help make your study sessions more efficient. Try categorizing notes into “know for sure”, “familiar” and “need to study” to create a basis for your study priorities.

You can also try the Pomodoro Technique. This method suggests studying for 25 minutes, taking a 5 minute break and repeating. This technique helps to promote sustained focus while combating distractions and fatigue. Timers can be found online that have preset study session lengths with the built in breaks.  

Get settled

Before the exam, get your space ready. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed by friends and family and then remove or silence anything that might distract you. Check your computer for any required software and be sure you have a full battery or a charger. Ensure your internet connection is strong and there are no scheduled outages that may interfere with your exam. 

Take care of yourself

Exam anxiety is a real and natural thing. Everyone reacts differently to stress from testing, so be sure you know how to best steady yourself. Take a few deep breaths to settle your mind before your exam or keep a glass of water nearby. If physical activity helps, do that before the exam.

Last, if you experience technical issues, do not panic. Do not close out of the exam window if you can help it. Contact your instructor as soon as possible to explain what happened. Screenshots of the issue and taking note of the error codes may help you and your instructor resolve the problem more quickly.


To explore more ways to prepare for online exams check out the full articles.