Finally Time for Finals Week: Are You Prepared?

Winter break is coming, but before the much needed relaxation comes, the daunting task of taking and successfully passing final exams. These tests vary in format from covering the material at the end of a course, to projects, to covering an entire course.  Formats also vary from multiple choice based tests to essays.

Kaitlyn Mazzeo, a junior English and elementary education major, said that she is going to try and wing it this year. “I don’t really prepare. I have four cumulative [exams] and two are what we did after midterms,” she said.

This is not a good idea because studying is very crucial for success on these exams which in turn determines the final course grade. Usually finals count for 15 to 30 percent of a student’s grade, but for some classes they can be as much as half the course grade.  Therefore, effective note taking is very important for success.

Junior Krista Varanyak said, “I always make flash cards and note sheets to prepare for  exams.  It helps me retain all of the information that I need to know.”  Grades can be determined significantly based on a final exam mark.

Senior psychology major Shannen Wilson knows, “This can be especially important when one’s grade is on the borderline of one mark to the next.”  This is especially important for maintaining a strong GPA.

Others have the same idea, but also know which exams to prioritize for when it comes to a major course versus a general education course.  Chris Chinn, a communication major believes finals in the particular major are more important to do well on than are finals for a general class. 

“Last semester I took and did well on exams for classes in my major.  The gen ed class was much more difficult and I did average on that.  I also knew that exam was more or less to fulfill a requirement for graduation that was not part of my major.”

Professors know that many students benefit from some sort of review or study guide prior to a final exam.  Steven Marvine, a professor of communication said, “While I give my students a study guide, it is not the exam verbatim.  This requires them to think critically in order to be successful on the test.”

It is important to remember that study guides are not always given nor are they required to be.  Most high schools require a two-three day review generally prior to the start of these, but colleges do not and sometimes give a week before a final for a particular class to study.

Junior elementary and special education major Allie Perz knows the difference of having or not having a study guide given in class.  “I feel that study guides are helpful for a final because they narrow everything you learned in the semester to exactly what you should study so it’s less overwhelming. Whenever I was given a study guide I received a good grade on a test,” said Perz.

Perz said that there also have been times when a study guide was not provided. “When I wasn’t given a study guide, I felt overwhelmed, and I don’t think I studied as much because I didn’t know what to study,” she said.

Briana Goitiandia, a sophomore said that not having a study guide made it difficult and even affected her course grade. “It was very difficult to answer questions that I had not been given the chance to prepare for,” said Goitiandia. She added that her grade was heavily affected by the particular exam.  “I would not do as well on tests I wasn’t prepared for as I did on tests that were exactly like the study guide.”

Finals are a necessary tool of assessment in college to see what students have mastered during the semester. While they may be stressful, they are also necessary to help one learn to budget time.  Finals are scheduled from Dec. 16 to Dec. 20 for the fall 2013 semester.

PHOTO TAKEN by Casey Wolfe