Test Prep: 4 tips to help you study for exams and finals

Female college student sitting in a library and-studying at one of the tables

What do you do to study for finals? What about regular exams? Do your methods work? Whether you are a freshman or a senior, finals still are one of the most stressful parts of college for students. All your hard work can depend on how well you perform on this last test. While some courses weigh final exams more than others, these tests are something students need to take their time to prepare for. Here are my tips when studying for not only finals, but regular exams: review your own notes, write key concepts down, create your own questions, and use your professor’s notes or material widgets, if included.

Review your notes early and often

One of the first things I do is review my notes for an exam. However, finals are quite different. Recently, I reviewed all my notes over eighteen chapters for my behavior therapy course, which proved difficult to retain the information.  What I recommend is to periodically review your notes for certain chapters throughout the semester. For example, if your course lists modules with several chapters, review those chapters at the end of the week. For some of my courses, our modules were spaced out every two weeks. After I finished a chapter I reviewed my notes before I moved on to the next chapter. This may be especially helpful when attempting to accumulate all of the information from previous chapters for exams.

Rewrite your notes

Rewriting important concepts and topics is also helpful. This deepens my understanding for the material and how each chapter shared similar ideas. For example, in my behavior therapy course we had a module on exposure therapy. Within this module, I had notes for flooding and graded exposure via imaginal and in vivo techniques. Although these therapies were separated in our text, by writing down outlines of the main topics I was able to clarify the distinctions between each technique and how these techniques were similar to other modalities taught in the course.

Quiz yourself with flashcards

Flashcards take studying to a whole new level! One great tool I began using this past semester was Pearson’s beta testing app called PearsonPrep. As a Pearson Beta Tester, I was able to test automatic flashcards made from my own documents uploaded to the app. I found this app great because it covered specific details that had the potential to be on the final. Personally, I have always had a hard time remembering details from the text, so when I could input my professor’s module summaries into a document and have flashcards from it, I found it very helpful. I was able to have different types of questions regarding the same topic, so I would recall it in different ways, not just by a fill in the blank answer or multiple choice. Likewise, I also found that generating my own questions really helped me remember the material. I suggest students generate their own questions when preparing for exams and their finals.

Winning with widgets

Lastly, when I transferred to the University of Central Florida, some of my professors included material participation as part of the modules. These participation activities usually were in the form of hangman or a crossword puzzle. What I loved about studying this way is that it tended to cover topics or ideas I may have forgotten about. Although the questions may not give enough information to use them exclusively for finals prep,  I used the material widgets in combination of other tools which strengthened my confidence in understanding the material. One benefit about these tools is that you can repeat them as many times as you like to review certain topics or key words.

Studying for finals does not have to be daunting. With the right approach and a plan, you can make studying efficient and fun. I recommend that when studying for finals you review your own notes, write down key concepts, create flash cards and use your professor’s notes or material widgets.

Pearson Students: What tips do you have for studying for finals? Please share by commenting below!




Jennifer Brown is Spring 2018 graduate of the University of Central Florida, with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. She will soon be entering the United States Navy and plans to train as a Hospital Corpsman. Her future goals include gaining research experience and pursuing a Master’s or Doctorate in Clinical Counseling.

Jennifer is a contributor to the Pearson Students Blog. If you are a college student and interested in writing for us –  click here to pitch your idea and get started!


  1. christopher 2 years ago

    you simply cramp down and block everybody and everything else out. that tends to work for me…

  2. RA 2 years ago

    I find using flashcards very helpful as well.

  3. Cassandra 2 years ago

    I like to quiz myself with flashcards

  4. Summer 2 years ago

    This is really great advice! Now that I am in finals week, I usually go over my past exam questions and develop a flashcard system to get as much information as possible and compartmentalize my thought process.

  5. Hector 2 years ago

    I agree with her. Good tips to succeed in tests in general.

  6. Nancy Starks-Hill 2 years ago

    I review the information while making the flash cards then quiz myself with them saying the answer outloud everyday if my answer is wrong I always mix that card in the pile & keep going till I get it right when ever there’s a spare moment until the instructor says “put away any notes”
    I do this until I know the answer on every card no matter the order there in.

  7. Mason 2 years ago

    I review old tests and take new notes.

  8. Vicky 2 years ago

    Great blog thanks for the tip. Thank God I dont have to worry about exams this semester.

  9. Stacey Marrazo 2 years ago

    I personally study better with my headphones on & nobody else around

  10. Ella 2 years ago

    I do all of those to get my 3.8 GPA

  11. Kelly Marie Smith 2 years ago

    I agree flashcards are a must. Great article 🙂

  12. Mariana 1 year ago

    I agree, great tips!

  13. christopher 1 year ago

    great advice from you guys. now with midterms going on, im gonna take that advice and run with it. go Longhorns. Hook em’!

  14. Emma 1 year ago

    Do a chapter review after every chapter is important.

  15. Caden Dahl 1 year ago

    I have some tests coming up. It would be a good idea to study for them and review. That way, I have a better chance of doing well on them.

  16. rahul grag 1 year ago

    Thank you for the advice, Great blog and tips. These tips really work. Rewriting your notes and quiz yourself with flashcards are the most useful tips I found on the blog.

  17. Dennis Sanchez 8 months ago

    I’m glad you explained that activities that allow you to participate are a good way to prepare for an exam. Tests are something that I have always struggled with, so I need to find a good way to help me study. Maybe finding some programs that focus on helping students prepare would be a good idea for me.

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