College instructors play a significant role in preparing their students for final exams. For example, before finals week, teachers can conduct a review session, go over questions from the midterm exam, and set up a study room. Read on to learn what review strategies might work best for your students.

Conduct a review session

A review class before the final exam is a good time to make sure students are on track and concentrating on the right material. Let the students know what is important information they should retain from this course. You could go over pertinent presentations and can also review the mid-term exam to show how questions on the final may be similar to the mid-term. A review session also helps decrease student anxiety over the final. Students who are confident they can succeed on the test will do well.

Writing in “Enhancing Learning and Exam Preparation,” posted at the Association for Psychological Science website, Denise Bord explained, “Students are often unaware of what they do not know or do not understand until closer to the exam, often a day before it occurs (Gurung, 2005). Review sessions can thus serve to help clarify questions about the materials/notes, make students feel more confident about possible exam material, and provide a valuable metacognitive opportunity to examine what they know and do not know.”

Let students do their own review

In class, you can have students ask each other review questions in a sort of quiz or game show. Students can ask each other challenge questions based on various topics. If the questions are inappropriate to the material, you can interject and nudge the students back into more pertinent information. This collaborative interaction between the students helps them feel more comfortable with the material.

Set up a study area

To help your students study, set up a quiet room where students can gather. It could be an empty classroom or conference room. Post specific hours when students can attend on their own if they choose. A safe, quiet place to study without interruptions is conducive to improving memory. You could even attend the study room to be present if students have questions.

Make yourself available

Another way to make yourself available is to increase office hours around exam time to provide extra help to students who ask for it or need it. You can answer questions for students, go over the difficult material, and guide students towards important areas of study.

Encourage more sleep

Explain to students that staying up all night to study actually hurts the brain’s ability to retain information. A full 7 to 8 hours of sleep following a study session and before a morning exam will help students remember material and better process that material for an exam.

Hold the exam in the same room as class

According to Robert K. Throop in the book Reaching Your Potential: Personal and Professional Development, Fourth Edition: “What we learn is connected with the state and place in which we learn. The environment in which learning takes place provides cues associated with the learning, making things easier to recall when you’re in the same location. That’s why students who take a class and final exam in the same room generally do better than those who are tested in a different room” (Throop, 91).

Reference: Throop, Robert K. 2011. Reaching Your Potential: Personal and Professional Development, 4th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

What other ways have you helped students study for exams?