How To Study for Finals: Top 15 Tips for Finals Week

Female studying for finals

Finals week will be here before you know it! Whether you are finishing your first semester, your first year of college or you are a graduating senior, it’s important to do well on your final exams. The hard work you have put into your classes all semester can pay off when you receive a good grade.

15 Tips for Finals Week

Learn how to study for finals with these 15 actionable tips:

1. Find a Good Place To Study

Wondering how to get through finals week on a busy, bustling campus? When studying for finals, it’s important to find an environment where you can focus on the task at hand. If you are someone who needs complete silence, find a place on campus that is quiet and free from distractions, such as the library or an ACE Quiet Space. On the other hand, if you are someone who studies well in a more interactive environment, Grand Canyon Beverage Co. (GCBC), or the ACE Centers at Roadrunner and Salt may be a good setting. 

2. How To Study for Finals Week With a Calendar

Staying organized leading up to finals week is key. Creating a calendar is a great way to do this, as you can write out when each exam will take place throughout the week. This will give you a visual representation of your schedule, and you will be able to pace yourself when you study.

3. Use Creative Strategies To Study

There are many creative ways to study. Depending on your learning style, you can come up with activities to help you remember the material. For example, if you are a visual learner, you may benefit from color coding your notes or quizzing yourself using flashcards with images to help make connections and remember the material. For more tips on how to study, please register for or walk-in to any success workshop held at our ACE Center at Encanto.  

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

While you are in class leading up to finals week, don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify concepts. It’s important to ensure you have the correct information before you begin studying it, so take advantage of your professor’s office hours, student hours, the writing math and science centers or ask questions during class.

5. Form a Study Group

Studying with classmates can be a great way to interact with course material. You can quiz each other, which will give you a feel for what you already know and what you may need to study more. In addition, studying in a group can allow you to practice by teaching concepts to others, which is a great way to gain a stronger understanding of the material.

Choose your study group participants wisely. Make sure that everyone present is committed to working hard for the sake of a good grade. In addition, create an agenda for each meeting to ensure that you stay on track.

6. Take Advantage of Available Resources

To increase your chances of being successful, take advantage of the resources that are available to you when studying for finals. For example, if your professor is holding a study session, do your best to attend and take notes. In addition, take advantage of campus resources such as tutoring services or content clinics. A campus tutor may offer additional tips for finals week that can help you. GCU’s ACE Centers offer 1:1 tutoring, group sessions, success coaching, mid-term and final test prep sessions called After-Dark Series.

7. Finals Study Tips for Minimizing Distractions

Do you have a hard time focusing with your cellphone nearby? During finals week, it’s important to do your best to minimize distractions. For example, you may decide to put your phone away while you study or stay off social media for the week. This way, the time you spend studying can be more productive.

8. How To Get Through Finals Week With Your Health Intact

Energy drinks, a lack of sleep and a poor diet can be detrimental to your success during finals week. While it may seem like this is what everyone else is doing, it is typically not the best way to go about studying.

In fact, it is even more important during finals week to exercise, maintain a balanced diet and get plenty of sleep. Exercise can help to relieve stress, and your brain will function better when you are well-rested and receiving the nutrients your body needs.1

9. Motivate Yourself With Rewards

Motivating yourself with small rewards can help you to keep a positive attitude when prepping for finals. For example, after committing a certain amount of time to studying, you can reward yourself by watching an episode of your favorite TV show or going to dinner with a friend. Balance is key, so rather than depriving yourself of enjoyable things, give yourself incentives to study and do well.

The week before finals, the ACE Centers host a Cram Jam session. That night, each center is designated a subject matter area with tutors on staff for walk-ins and a free continental breakfast. Reward yourself with clarifying questions and free food.

10. Do Your Own Research

Keeping up with your classwork is important for your academic success but doing your own research as well can help you prepare for your future. Along with what you learn in class, you should visit the library or go online to read about the most recent findings and trends. You can bring these topics up to your study group or even during class if your professor offers discussion time.

11. Combat Procrastination With a Timer

If you find yourself procrastinating and delaying your next study session, try using a timer technique. Instead of committing to get through a certain amount of material during your next study session, commit to studying for 30 minutes straight with no distractions. Set a timer to keep yourself on track. (You can use an app or your watch.)

After the 30 minutes are up, give yourself a five to 10 minute break, and then set your timer for another 30-minute study session.

12. Start Earlier Than You Think You Need To

Some students may wait to consider how to study for finals until a week or two beforehand. It might be ideal to begin preparing within a couple of weeks after starting the semester. If you set aside designated times to review material and study throughout the semester, you’ll likely feel less pressured as finals week approaches. Of course, you’ll likely still want to increase your study time as finals week draws nearer.

13. Request Different Exam Times If Need Be

In most cases, you’ll need to take all final exams as they are scheduled. However, it’s possible that you may have two finals scheduled for the same day.

Scrutinize your exam schedule as soon as the test dates and times are available. If you do have a scheduling conflict, reach out to your professors as soon as possible to ask if you can take one of the exams on a different day. Students who are receiving accommodations need to ensure that they are aware of the stipulations for completing their exams and that they review with their faculty to ensure timely completion of projects.

14. Study According to the Test Format

Your finals won’t necessarily all follow the same format. Some might have multiple-choice questions, while others might be essay exams. Adjust your studying approach accordingly.

For example, to study for a multiple-choice exam, you’ll want to focus on understanding key definitions and concepts. Depending on the topic, you may also need to remember important dates or people. When you’re preparing for an essay-based exam, on the other hand, you’ll want to develop a broad understanding of all the relevant concepts. You’ll also want to identify some examples or case studies of those concepts that you could discuss in your essay.

15. Be Confident!

Above all, it is important to be confident when you go into finals week. If you put in the hard work to do well, you can trust that you have prepared yourself to do well on the exam. When exam time comes, take a deep breath and give your best effort. If you keep these finals study tips in mind, you may be more likely to see positive results.

Grand Canyon University can help you make the most of your college experience by offering resources, like the Academic and Career Excellence (ACE) centers, to help you navigate your academic journey. At GCU, you can choose from a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Fill out the form on this page to learn more about joining our student community. 


1 American Psychological Association. (2020, March 4). Working out boosts brain power. Retrieved August 9, 2023. 


Approved by the program director of Academic and Career Excellence on Sept. 25, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.