Preparing for Finals

Finals are a time of anxiety for both faculty and students.  As you begin preparing for final exams take some time to strategize on how you will best navigate this tense time.

“Test anxiety is reduced when a student feels adequately prepared for a test.”
(From Cizek & Burg, Addressing Test Anxiety, Corwin Press, 2006)

Faculty and students can contribute to reduced anxiety and better scores by following some practical tips.

Tips for Faculty:

At this late point in the semester you can help students by distributing sample questions to give them an idea of the types of questions that you will use.  Review the thought processes behind the types of questions so that students understand how best to reason and solve the questions.  The reason behind reviewing such information with students is that it allows them to see that the assessment tool is fair.  When students believe that assessment is fair, their anxiety levels decline.

For constructing fair assessment tools visit

Tips for Students

Tips for relieving stress as you prepare for an exam:

Research into education would remind you during this stressful time that over-learning and adequate rest are essential for learning.  While study and rest seem to be mutually contradictory during finals, try to remember that being confident for an exam requires a full grasp of the material, but cognitive function is hindered when we do not get enough sleep.  To do your best, you must study and rest!

Tips while taking an exam:

  • Look over the whole exam so that you can pace yourself.
  • Read the questions carefully to help identify the information that is wanted in the answer.
  • Break the problem into smaller parts.  If you are answering an essay, be sure to answer each part of the question posed.
  • Take short mental breaks where you close your eyes, relax and breath deep to refocus your mind and clear your head.
  • Do not panic if you are not sure about a question.  Eliminate choices and make an educated guess.