We are just about to start our 13th week of the spring semester and as we realize we are almost done, we are just 2 weeks away from finals. Every course has its own plan for its final exam, and so I can just speak to my experience so far.
For some courses, the final is not going to be much different from the assignments given throughout the semester. For some, it is going to take more effort studying than the midterms required. Regardless, the professors at UC are beyond amazing and prepare from day one.
- For example, in Arabic Grammar, we have certain drills from the textbook assigned for us to submit each week. Our final is going to consist of drills from multiple parts of the textbook to review material that we did at the beginning of the semester. How I review for these types of finals is going back and redoing a few questions of each drill, and since the rules we learn build upon each other, going back and redoing drills from week 1/week 2 should feel relatively comfortable. In my opinion, learning material for the first time shouldn’t be easy, but reinforcing that material should be even harder because it is our chance to figure it out on our own. With that in mind, I personally do not recommend passively ‘looking back at old notes’ to get ready for a final.
- Another example, in Cell Biology, we have 4 midterms throughout the semester and end with a cumulative final exam (typical of college science classes). Each midterm covers material between certain dates. Midterm 1 covers material from Jan 11-Jan 29, Midterm 2 covers material from Feb.1-Feb.24, etc… The final (in this example) is going to be the only cumulative exam and thus requires us to go back to the first day of class material. Since midterm 2, I have decided to input all proceeding information into Anki. I see a huge benefit to using Anki consistently; I understand the information more as well as can recall it on an exam, boosting my exam scores. To specifically review for this final exam, I make sure that all the material is in Anki so when I do my cards daily, I can review all necessary information. I also go back to our daily lecture quizzes and past midterms to reason out why I made the mistakes I did. Even with an information-heavy course, the questions we are asked are not basic definition/function/label questions. We are expected to have a good understanding of the information so that when it is asked about in context to a disease/mutation/real-life situation, we can connect the dots and come to a conclusion on our own.
- A final example that has a different approach to final exams is Organic Chemistry. Organic Chemistry is a full-year (2 semesters) course, meaning that our final in Organic 2, covers material from our first day of Organic 1. Other than being an abundance of information, the final exam of both Organic 1 and 2 are written by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and are standardized questions. I was fortunate to have had the same amazing professor my first and second semester, and so for all our midterm exams (written by the professor), I knew the routine. Our professor was always very specific with what he was expecting as an answer on the midterm and so we knew how to practice; however, for the standardized final exam, we need to get used to the style of questions. Thankfully, after we finish every chapter of the textbook, we are given an ACS quiz showing us how they write it and approach the topic. I would say that we have been getting ready for our final since Aug.24, but a lot more review on old material has to be done. To do this review, I have been completing ACS-styled questions from question banks online. Because these questions are also multiple-choice, we have to take time and the process of elimination into consideration.
These are just a few personal examples of what a ‘final’ looks like and how I have been preparing for them. I hope you found them helpful, and best of luck on Finals!