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Scientifically, The 8 Best Ways To Prepare For Final Exams

Student studying for exams

Finals week can be a stressful time for all students. Knowing how to properly prepare for finals is the key to avoiding stress and acing, well passing, your final exams. When you can’t get a massage or visit therapy dogs in the library, these 8, scientifically proven, ways to prepare for final exams will help you out.

But, we all know this isn’t really possible. There needs to be a uniform way to assess our performance as students and it has to happen at some point (hence, “finals”). So how else can we lower stress and know that we’re on the right track to excel in each course? Well, here are some proven methods that will have you focused and better prepared for final exams.

1. Say NO to cramming

Study in intervals! Studying in 20-50 minute increments and giving yourself 5-10 minutes in between is more beneficial than cramming.  Distributing learning over time typically benefits long-term retention more than a short period. When you are studying, remember that reading is NOT studying. Interact with the materials, but then take a break and come back to it later.

2. Say YES to cardio

Whether you’re dancing, jogging, or busting a sweat by walking, exercise will increase your energy level and reduce the effects of stress. Make exercising a habit, and don’t be afraid to start small. Starting out with just 10 minutes a day has cognitive benefits. Set a goal of 150 minutes per week.

3. Eat, and eat well

Eat breakfast before your test! A healthy breakfast directly benefits academic performance and reported GPA among university students. Avoid the sugar and reach for a protein-rich breakfast instead.

Remember, what you eat overall as part of a healthy diet is important too. Eating healthy snacks during the day when you are studying for and taking final exams. Reach for nuts, fruit, protein bars, and yogurt are good choices. Pack grapes and mixed fruit; throw snack bags full of nuts and dried fruit; make rollups with lunch meat and cheese; or prepare almond butter and pita bites.

4. Find alternate study spots

It is important to find a spot that brings you comfort and peace when you study, but it is just as important to shake up your finals routine! Spending all night in the library is draining and sometimes the view outside your bedroom window just isn’t cutting it. Make a change for the brain.

According to the New York Times, changing the room where a person studies improve retention. Psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Why? The brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time. Try alternating your study spots between the library, a study room, and a quiet coffee house.

5. Manage your time

Cramming causes anxiety, which lowers your ability to retain information. By creating a balanced study plan and schedule, you will be able to study each subject in its entirety and ultimately boost your test performance.

6. Avoid the all-nighter

Almost every college student pulls an all-nighter, but it is a bad idea. Based on a 2008 study by Pamela Thacher, Associate Professor of Psychology at St. Lawrence University, all-nighters impair reasoning and memory for as long as four days.  As a result, you will receive lower grades. But that’s not all; you would then be forced to wake up earlier than expected–and that’s bad too. According to Dan Taylor, director of a sleep-and-health-research lab at the University of North Texas, this will interfere with rapid-eye-movement (REM), which aids memory. So, get a good night’s sleep and expect to perform better on tests. (Quick tip: Review the toughest material right before going to bed the night before the test. It makes it easier to recall the material later, adds Taylor!)

 student at laptop

7. MINIMIZE distractions

Research shows that while many teens prefer to study while listening to music, texting friends, or watching television, they are less likely to retain information that way. If you must listen to music, stick to instrumental music and consider downloading these study tools to keep you focused!

8. MAXIMIZE practice-testing

You may have thought highlighting, re-reading and summation would be effective ways to study. Think again!  A 2013 study, Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques, found that these techniques do not consistently boost students’ performance. Practice testing through the use of flashcards, or taking practice exams was observed to be a highly effective studying technique.

If you need help studying for finals, look for help on campus. Campus librarians, writing center tutors, and your professors are the best resources to help you understand the content and develop ways to relate to the materials. Hit up office hours, make a tutoring appointment, or swing by the library to add more resources to your final exams toolkit.


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Written by Shaniese Alston

Shaniese Alston was a student assistant in the Office of New Media of the State University of New York for the fall 2013 academic semester while a student at the University at Albany.

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There are 121 comments

  • I would call start studying around 3 days before the exam some major procrastination. You should be studying or reviewing material all semester theoretically. Even for me, I study for exams at least a week in advance. But everyone has a different major/class path.

  • After we go to the gym, we rest our muscles.
    Similarly, when we stress our brain for studies, we have the ability to absorb better

  • Will says:

    Time management was always an issue, everything was done last minute with significant amounts of coffee, literally overnight

  • Robert S. says:

    I like that you drew attention to cardio because even though one may study for hours on end, memory retention plays a pivotal role in how well one does on an exam. This is why students should be more mindful of fitness; even if they only run for a half hour or so, they may be surprised by how much easier exams become.

  • TC says:

    Does no one else see how wildly unrealistic these suggestions are? The typical college student works part-time and has 12 to 18 credits. Especially if the student is in a STEM degree, then the only way he/she gets by is by giving up sleep (the other option is to find a reservoir of unlimited cash reserves to live off of in lieu of a job). The idea balanced lifestyle just isn’t attainable to regular college students who are juggling the average weight of balls (let alone those who are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds).

    If anyone here reading this can show an example of a student with good grades who followed the above suggestions, I’d perhaps be willing to lay down my quarrel with it. But the facts are that these suggestions are flatly unrealistic.

  • Very interesting post.this is my first time visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion..thanks for the post!

  • After we go to the gym, we rest our muscles.

    Similarly, when we stress our brain for studies, do remember to have sufficient sleep and rest too.

  • My final exams are near. I went total crazy. So nervous. How I am going to prepare for final exams? And suddenly I found your article on internet. It solved my problem. I am absolutely ready for final exams.

  • Nina says:

    First and foremost you must be well aware of the exam content, secondly you must study, practice and constantly review and analyse. Thirdly, you must look and try to solve past papers, thirdly in case you are applying for police or fire department you must to boost your physical strength which is an essential aspect for both these jobs. In my opinion it would be best to enroll in to a civil service learning institution as they through practice test, answer explanation, study guides, and different set of tips and tricks helps in ensuring that the applicant easily clear the test and successfully enter the civil service.

  • I found it interesting that you state that maximizing practice testing is the best way to study for exams. My brother is taking the Security+ test in a month and wants to be able to get a high score. I will send him this information so he can look into taking a Security+ practice test before the actual exam.

  • Omar says:

    I would suggest Yoga, it is a proven method to keep your health, soul and mind at balance level, this will boost your concentration. Try it one

  • Thanks for the advice on how to take a test effectively. Minimizing distractions, though, is easier said than done. Maybe I should look for a tutor who can keep special cases like myself on track.

  • I would suggest signing up for private or tuition classes as another way for preparing for the final exams.

  • Great tips! One of the most basic things that we need to understand is that each and every child has a different learning capacity and different learning style. Some child might grasp things quickly, while others may take time. In high school, more studying techniques are there which can help students to score well in exams. You have shared a good resource for the high school students.

  • I never knew that exercise can actually improve your memory and reduce the effects of stress. My wife has been taking some night classes, and she told me that she is scared that she won’t be able to handle her final test with the stress of her job piled on top! I will be sure to suggest to my wife that we exercise together to reduce stress and helped her pass!

  • Really great article on exam. My final exam is knocking at door. But i cannot focus on my study yet due to social media. I still wasting time by chatting with my friends. Please say how can i overcome it?

  • Austin says:

    This is such a good article for reading, keeping update for future.
    i will share your website to my friend,
    thanks you

  • Maria says:

    please reply ، can we share on our website?
    Thank you

  • Vin Shawn says:

    Great article indeed!

  • Vin Shawn says:

    Indeed it is important to take a break after studying for about 20-25 minutes because an average student can’t hold up his /her concentration for more than 25 minutes. For research and essay analysis on this topic, visit

  • David says:

    This is what I was looking for. Thanks for the amazing tips. Time management is very crucial at this time; the students should utilize the time very effectively and not waste the time.

  • neal patel says:

    My Masters Exams are round the corner and this tips will surely help me to bring the best of me and everyone who read this blog.
    6th point “Avoid the all-nighter” is for me. i always study whole night but now i have to change my habit.
    thanks a lot for sharing the best way to prepare in finals.! 🙂

  • My son is getting to the point where he’s going to start needing to take the ACT and the SAT so that he can get into college. The problem is that he is terrible at taking tests. He can learn things just fine, but tests just aren’t his thing. So, I like your tip to take practice exams because they help to boost performance. Still, I think that I’ll find him some formal test prep before he needs to take them.

  • Sarah A. says:

    Thanks for the awesome advice! I’ve written a very similar post on my website except the only difference you have more coverage around food and exercise.

    One thing I’d like to point out, if you’re studying for exams, you should have small breaks in while studying to give your brain a break from lengthy concentration periods. But then again, this might not work for everyone.

    Overall, awesome article, keep up the good work!

  • Cris says:

    Very Nice Post.

  • Time management for learning as well as preparing physical and mental conditions for facing the school exam

  • I used to highlight entire pages in my chemistry textbook and summarize each section in the margins, thinking that would help me, but I still scored low on tests. No more cramming for me! I’m going to be taking more practice tests and making lots of flashcards.

  • I was actually looking for something like that thanks for this meaningful article. can you please suggest how to be more focused towards the goal

  • Eshika Roy says:

    Thank you for this helpful article on the best way to prepare for exams. These tips will help the students a lot and ease their mounting tension before the exams. I am looking forward to reading more interesting posts in the future.

  • amr amin says:

    “eat breakfast” one of the important thing To Prepare For Final Exams,

  • Eva Roster says:

    Thank you for posting this informative blog on the best ways to prepare for final exams. This blog will certainly help a lot of students in charting their study schedule and scoring the maximum marks in exams. Most of the times students neglect their health in order to read more during exams. It is necessary that they maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow a healthy sleep pattern. Looking forward to reading more interesting articles in the future.

  • Never new such scientific ways when I was school. But will definitely share with my students. Thanks for writing, it was good read.
    Rochelle Park, NJ.

  • Hello
    I like 1st and 5th point most. Cramming is not good at all. And time management is very important in our life.
    So stay healthy and focus on studies.
    Practice test papers is very important.

  • The preparation for the bar exam can be a daunting experience. But, with proper guidance and tools, you could crack the bar exam.

  • samson says:

    what about the happy hour ? you know that time you are really in the mood? People are different. Research shows that many people have a good mood in the morning and others at night. So the rules may apply differently.

  • cris says:

    Very good article.

  • There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.

  • Abhinandan kumar says:

    This are the good tips to improve their study skill

  • Give yourself enough time to study. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Use a keyword to refocus yourself. Take good notes in class. Study hard subjects first.

  • jobs data says:

    Really it’s great thanks for sharing this excellent info..

  • casi says:

    it help a lot for the thing im ben going trough it help a whole lot so thank u

  • Darth Cynical says:

    BS about all nighters. I have done PLENTY and make good grades. Its all about knowing the material!

  • فوائد says:

    thanks a lot its very important views for every student of college or universtiess

  • ind mania says:

    Wow really these tips are very helpful to me..

  • Sami says:

    Cardio? haha i cant even think of moving. but still, great tips to prepare for exams, thank you

  • sonavasu says:

    i am also……..,

  • mansoor says:

    thanks a lot its very important views for every student of college or universtiess
    thanks again

  • colleta gandidzanwa says:

    Thank you it is very important thanks ………..

  • Casseria Sboniso says:

    i almost started my exam without these golden tips. i believe that they will work for me…thanks

  • Writing skills are needed everywhere. Going to university, writing your own blog, even in daily life. There is the service that can help you to improve your writing – essays, thesis papers, etc.

  • Irvan Suce says:

    but… i love to study all nighter…

  • Pearlite says:

    Really useful tips before my exams. I totally get it. Many thanks.

  • Thanks for these points but i ‘ think cramming is most common among every age student. We all are doing cramming since from childhood.

  • Manish Analytics says:

    Proven, cramming will never going work at all. It happened with me when I was in class 5th. Let me tell you what exactly happen when you cram. It will never let you understand your subject the biggest difficult thing also distracts your mind. So yes its better to say no cramming.

  • Krrish says:

    Thanks for this and i also want to increase my learning power do you have any tips for that.

  • Australian Girl says:

    No cramming because it increases anxiety. I totally get it!

  • vivek says:

    I was actually looking for something like that thanks for this meaningful article. can you please suggest how to be more focused towards the goal

  • Very nice article, the article content is nice and helpful.This site is always present information that is so very inspiring at all thank you .

  • Pàdmâ Pralhad says:

    Wow….this tips were’ really awesome… And helpful for students….THANKU…:)

  • Love to read these awesome piece of advice
    Will definitely follow it for betterment

  • RIYA KUMAR says:


  • yokoz says:

    learn in a happy mood and no pressure will make the lesson more easily memorized

  • ayush says:

    Thanks this is the way to success the exam

  • zubi says:


  • george says:

    wooooooow this is the best idea , after following the instructions i passed may exams,with 8 A’s

  • Thanks a lot it helped me very well

  • aman says:

    Thank you so much for the article, some best ways to avoid stress and anxiety are provided. Helpful……

  • cabdiqaadir taani says:

    why no to cramming

  • ajitrshah says:

    its a very good concept to follow and manage your time & also to increase your memory capacity……!

  • Binod says:

    Nice tips I think I m missing some of them…..but now I can correct myself ….thanx a lot….

  • reyezard says:

    i have final exams next week nd i will surely use these tips….thanx

  • mo says:

    thanks helped a lot

  • vadu says:

    Hello, I think while preparing for final exams we should prepare self written notes that’s why it will be helpful for us to do revision at the end time of the exam time.

    I think this is a cutting edge concept.

  • Sanjana says:

    Thanks..:) Your article is great!

  • yaduvanshi says:

    hello, great blog post

    Specially I like the way you people express to prepare for exams, almost the same way I have prepared my exams while doing engineering.

  • Samuel Sagar Thapa says:

    Thanks lot for good inspiring suggestions and tips…

  • Sasha says:

    Thanks a lot, your tips are great, yet it’s much more easier for me to study in the evening and at night, since i am a night owl. i think there are many people who have the same biorhythm. Anyway, the article is very interesting.

  • Anam Rabbani says:

    Thanx sister your tips are awesome :* 🙂

  • If you are a night owl you can study by the nights. Night owls and early risers have different brain structures. You can read about it.

  • swati sharma says:

    Really.fab…..thks for the suggestions

  • Carol says:

    This article is very helpful though i wish i had seen it before i did my finals last year.
    i cramming mostly and now it is affecting me at my work place since i remember little of the info.

  • Rukhshana Parween says:

    I hope these tips will help me for my exam

  • Rukhshana Parween says:

    I hope these tips will work on me sothat i can be a topper of my college like alwas

  • Wonderful ways about preparing for exams! Speed reading can be another best way, It is used to improve one’s ability to read quickly.

    I have come across an organization which published an article about speed reading.

  • Mitch M. says:

    2. Say YES to cardio: Science says that just 20 minutes of cardio can improve your memory. Whether *your* dancing, jogging or busting a sweat by walking, exercise will increase your energy level and reduce the effects of stress. Very important!

    ‘your’ should be ‘you’re’

  • Jb says:

    thanks for the tips. its more convincing and hence encouraging. selection of alternate-study-spot-point is very beneficial,

  • bleylock says:

    my exams are on week and i have hardly studied anything

    cramming is not working but my parents insist me on cramming

    • jayesh says:

      Go ahead with what ur mind says

    • aman says:

      just believe in yourself and u will feel better .don’t take any type of stress!!it will harm you .enjoy your studies,good

    • uma says:

      if the is only a small time also with full interest and concentration we can study properly by understanding.parents can say anything but u r going to face the exam.its your choice that how to read.all the best.

  • lajean says:

    The tips are great but how do you attack ALL 6 subjects for finals when the finals are taking in the same week? Do I study each subject for an hour, a day or what? I seems to cram everything at once and its not working for me.

  • I think all of us somehow study last minute.

    I agree though that cramming isn’t efficient.

  • shaiji says:

    thanks,i like the all tips.because,these are more helpful for the students.

  • mohammed marsooque says:

    thank you Shaniese Alston…
    7th point is very usefull for me…
    i hope these studiying tips will work for me

  • geethu says:

    I like the sixth point. because, it related to me. I studying all nights without sleep.when i read the point, i understand that what ever did till now is big mistake.

  • soumya says:

    thanks for giving an extraordinary tips for examination.I like the sixth one.Because most of students are trying to finish the portion. so they want study during night also .but this will be affect badly to the next day

  • vidya AP says:

    I like fifth point. Because, till now i was like that.. always cramming method.. but now i understood that it is not good..
    I am thanking to this website for gave me such a good information.

  • Antony says:

    thanks for these great study tips

  • ali abbas says:

    Break should be taken after 20 or 25 minutes but it should be not more than of 8 minute

  • Billybobjoe says:

    I don’t know…I study for a final a week before, then on Sunday, I take a break, because nobody wants to be stressed…right?

  • yusluv says:

    Gonna try it and works toward it τ̲̅o the fullest who know it might a great help ever.

  • John F says:

    Great article!

    What most people don’t realize is that studying and learning should never be too difficult. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what it’s like. You know the feeling: you go to class, get a ton of homework, then spend hours and hours reading over your notes, trying to memorize everything in a mad panic before your next exam.
    Not only is this stressful, but studying this way is both time consuming and a huge waste of energy. But the good news is, studying doesn’t have to be this difficult.
    In fact, if done correctly studying and learning should be a pleasurable experience. It shouldn’t be hard and it should probably take you less than half the time you’re already spending. So how is all this possible?

    This video explains some of my views:
    Efficient studying

  • Ben Gates says:

    Knowing your learning style is important. Auditory learners might benefit from hearing content versus reading:

  • Hamed says:

    I think cramming can be helpfull only if you understand the supject very well. so your brain use them as a referances.

  • UBOcash says:

    “The Best Ways To Prepare For Final”. I like that title word. Awesome

  • I like the first point. It is the most important of all of these. Take a break after studying for about 20-25 minutes. The main reason behind this is that an average student can’t hold up his /her concentration for more than 25 minutes. And I have created an infographic on this subject, check it out >

  • peter says:

    This is great stuff

  • nc says:

    I used to highlight entire pages in my chemistry textbook and summarize each section in the margins, thinking that would help me, but I still scored low on tests. No more cramming for me! I’m going to be taking more practice tests and making lots of flashcards.

  • Thandekile says:

    I hope this study tips will work for me as it did to others

  • Wow these are the best study hacks that i have read over internet. I think retaining what we have studied is more important than studying a lot of stuff.

  • Kanwal says:

    Hey Mark, What do you mean by memory exercise..?? 🙂

  • Mark says:

    These are some very great tips! However, you forgot to mention using memory exercises which stores even more information while studying! These eight steps is definitely Good wisdom and the reader should heed to what the page is saying. Thank you for these tips and Merry Christmas Everyone!

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