Published: April 9, 2021

While the thought of taking finals may feel overwhelming, you can set yourself up for success with the right strategies. Here is a list of things you can do to ace your exams, no matter where you are. 

Get organized

Look at your syllabi and verify with your professors any exam dates, times and additional information you might need to be prepared. Make sure you make a note if your finals will be in person or virtual, as this can help you become familiar with your workload leading up to exam time. Use a calendar or planner to map out exam dates, times and any necessary study sessions.

Prioritize your projects, papers, labs and exams based on deadlines. Make projects and studying more manageable by breaking them down into smaller steps. You can try this seven-day study plan to help you stay on track. 

Plan a strategy

As you get organized, consider what successful studying looks like for you:

  • Do you concentrate best when there’s complete silence or some background noise?
  • Are you more mentally sharp at a certain point in the day (early mornings or evenings)?
  • Are you more of a visual learner or do you learn best by reading/writing?
  • Is it helpful to study with a friend or two, or do you study best on your own?

You could also consider trying different study methods to review material for your classes, such as the Feynman technique

Find your study spot

As the weather gets warmer, there is more opportunity for you to find a study spot outside your home while continuing to follow physical distancing guidelines. Discover a study spot on campus, or check out ways to create the perfect study spot no matter where you are.

Communicate with roommates

If you are living with roommates or other family members, make a study schedule and talk with them about a designated “quiet time” leading up to and during finals week. Knowing how you study and communicating with others in your household about what you need can help you feel prepared for finals.

Take breaks

It can be tempting to pull an all-nighter to get things done, but this can be more harmful than helpful in the end since sleep is so vital for memory. Take short breaks during study sessions to give your brain a rest. You can take a quick walk, stretch or watch a funny video.

Allowing yourself the time to step away from what you are learning can be useful so you don’t feel over stressed or drained from the material you are reviewing. 

Ask for help

There’s still time to ask for help if you are struggling with an assignment or subject.

Avoid cutting corners

Even though it’s crunch time, avoid cutting corners with your work. Failing to properly cite a source or asking a friend to help out with your work (even if it is virtually) may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but these actions and any form of academic dishonesty are a violation of the Honor Code and can have consequences.

Academic dishonesty is any act in which a student gains or attempts to gain an unfair academic advantage over other students. Examples of this include plagiarism and cheating. All CU Boulder students are subject to the Honor Code for academic matters, and students who violate the code may be subject to discipline.

Learn more about how to avoid the top violations of the Honor Code.

Remember to prioritize what is important, prepare yourself and take it one exam at a time. Take a deep breath and finish strong!

person studying on laptop

Academic resources

Managing stress resources

  • Counseling and Psychiatric ServicesCAPS offers a variety of mental health services, including free drop-ins through e-Let’s Talk and weekly workshops that cover a variety of topics like stress management, anxiety, healthy habits, relationships and more.
  • Wellness WednesdaysThis weekly program provides a space to engage in self-care activities, learn about campus resources and build community. Students can participate in the activity and have conversations with an emotional wellness peer educator to create self-care plans. 
  • SilverCloud online mental health programTake charge and manage your emotional health and well-being with SilverCloud, a free, online tool that provides personalized programs to help build skills around stress management, anxiety and depression.