Tips for a Successful Finals Week
Finals week has arrived, and we are so close to completing the academic year! While you may be preparing for summer plans or the summer classes you are taking, it is important to finish out the semester strong. If this is your first finals week at CGU or you’re just about to earn your degree, it is never a bad idea to review how to effectively prepare for any finals you may have. In graduate school, finals can look very different than your undergrad experience. Depending on your area of study, you might be asked to write a final paper, prepare a presentation, or take an exam.
No matter the mode of your final, creating a realistic plan to succeed is a perfect place to start. This can include forming a schedule to account for any reading, writing, or studying you need to complete. To keep this schedule “realistic”, keep in mind that your other commitments and proper time to recharge throughout the day. After you create this plan, we encourage you to use both CGU and shared resources to your advantage during this busy time.
Research tips: You may be familiar with the Claremont Colleges Library and the online resources available to CGU students, but there is so much to explore on their website. Check out the video tutorials including search strategies, citing, and how to use the library’s resources. Need some help finding, accessing, and evaluating information resources? You can also connect with a subject librarian who specializes in research in your field.
Writing tips: Many graduate–level finals ask for final papers or presentations. The Center for Writing and Rhetoric should be your go-to destination when it comes to academic writing. If you have questions or just need a refresher before your final papers, the CWR website has information on writing structure, writing processes, refining your writing style, and so much more. With grammar handouts and resources regarding formatting, you can gain plenty of insight from the CWR website. If you need one-on-one time with a writing consultant, you can schedule an appointment with CWR in advance. We always recommend scheduling an appointment further in advance so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. Also note that the CWR specializes in writing structure and style, not necessarily grammar and syntax. For grammar help on your papers, we recommend downloading a browser extension such as Grammarly to help you out.
Reading tips: As you may have noticed, reading is a large part of many graduate programs. Reading effectively is a skill that you can constantly refine and improve. Some ways to ensure you are retaining and connecting readings to course objectives include reading your materials more than once and annotating and taking notes as you read. As tempting as it may be, we don’t suggest reading in your bed or too close to going to sleep, since you will likely not be as alert or fall asleep while reading. Breaking down your reading can also help you read more effectively. Review in sections after each chapter and relate back to the course’s themes.
Exam tips: Some programs and courses may require written exams during finals week to assess your understanding of the material. When prepping for exams, we recommend NOT cramming material the night before. Before taking your exam, be prepared for the test format and always ask questions of your professor (which you should do throughout the semester!). If you feel lost and don’t know where to start when it comes to studying for an exam, try to target your studying based on your weaknesses and areas where you can improve. Leaning on your classmates to form study groups is a great way to build community with your colleagues and to get other perspectives on the course materials.
Lastly, take time to relieve stress and care for yourself. This week (and for any other week when you feel overwhelmed), try to take purposeful time away from social media. Not only will reducing your phone screen time possibly make you more productive and give you more free time, but it can also relieve some stress. During busy weeks like these, make sure you get enough sleep and take study breaks when you need them. You would be surprised how a short break can affect your mood and productivity, so step away and get fresh air when you need it. If you need help or need to talk to someone, be aware that Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services (MCAPS) is a resource available to you as a CGU student.
Have confidence in yourself and your knowledge! You are here at CGU for a reason, and we want you to succeed. To be at your best, you will need to invest some time into yourself. One of our earlier blog posts goes into great depth to outline ways you can practice self-care. We highly recommend setting time aside to invest in yourself and wellbeing.
What are some ways graduate–level finals differ from your undergraduate experience? What are some of the study tips you implement? Let us know! If you have any questions or suggestions for upcoming blog posts, send us an email at email@example.com.