Final Exams - Assess your progress
All exams are not created equal. Some count more toward your term grade, some less. Some cover the whole term, others just material since the last hour exam. You are probably better prepared in some subjects than others. Based on these differences, you can begin setting priorities for your exam study time.
It may help to use our Term Assessment Form to clarify your thoughts, look at your term as a whole, and possibly spot trends or problem areas. You may want to do this once a week before Drop Date (ninth week of term) and again a month before Exam Week. As you review your results, consider these questions as well:
- Do you know your approximate grade level in each subject? If not, speak with the instructor or TA as soon as possible. You have to be clear about your progress in order to set realistic goals. Your instructor and TA can also suggest tools for improvement, including alternative approaches to the material and possibly additional instruction or tutoring. Don't be afraid to ask: your instructor wants you to succeed by mastering the subject.
- Are you having difficulty with just one subject? Again, have a conversation with your instructor or TA right away. Ask them whether you can still pass the subject.
- If you still have a chance of passing,ask what grade you need to achieve on the final exam to pass the subject. Ask for help in studying for the final.
- If your performance in the subject is borderline, the instructor will likely encourage you to keep working and make this subject a high priority during the final exam period.
- If there's no chance that you can pass, meet immediately with your advisor. If it's still before Drop Date, you and your advisor will most likely decide you should drop. After Drop Date, with your advisor's input, choose one of two options. You can continue to attend class and submit work, laying a good foundation for the next time you take the subject. In this case, be careful not to sacrifice subjects that can be improved for one that cannot. On the other hand, sometimes both instructors and students have been surprised by a high final exam grade. Or you can stop working, accept the failing grade, and move on. If you choose to stop working, be sure to inform the instructor, so that s/he knows how to grade you.
- Are you having difficulty with two or more subjects? What are your realistic chances for success in each subject? Will intense effort in one jeopardize your performance in others? If you drop a subject (before Drop Date), will you be able to recover in your other subjects? If Drop Date has passed, meet with your advisor immediately to discuss how best to recover the term. You may also want to meet with a dean in Student Support Services to discuss your difficulties and explore possibilities for extensions or withdrawal.
- How can you improve your grade in a subject late in the term? After you have met with your instructor, TA, and advisor, you will have a good idea how you are doing in a subject and where your problem areas lie. Review these areas and redo incorrect problems from former problem sets and tests. Do practice problems and alternative problem sets from your textbook. Bring problems you cannot solve to your TA or a tutor for clarification. Continue practicing within your study group. Set realistic goals for yourself, and work on making progress in manageable steps.
- How many hours can you realistically spend preparing for each exam given the time remaining? This is the last question on the term assessment, and one to consider carefully. You will have assignments and unit tests for which to prepare in the weeks before exams begin. Make a list of these other commitments and their due dates. How much time will you need to prepare for them? How late in the term is it now? What resources will you need (such as access to practice problems, labs, computers, instructors, or TAs), and when will they be available to you?