16 April 2015
Finals have always been your nightmare? Now they are almost here, and you can’t afford to show up unprepared. Even if you’ve been studying like crazy, the stress and busyness of finals week can make it a tricky time. And you want to be prepared for anything that can happen, right? You have to be informed about everything – from the location and time of exam to the type of questions, so that you don’t take it too serious or not serious enough. That’s why it’s important to ask these vital 15 questions. They’re guaranteed to keep you from feeling confused and caught on the hop on the big day.
1. Will it be an open-book test?
You don’t want to waste your time memorizing facts that you can simply look up in your textbook. Still, using a book in the wrong course can get you an F for cheating. Ask this up front to save your skin.
2. Can we bring notes?
Like with the book, it’s wise to know if you can use study aids on your final. Also, it’s good to know how many notes you can have (like one page or 3×5 card). That way, you can spend time writing enough to get all your info onto a paper that won’t get you in trouble.
3. Is it a paper or online final test?
Especially in a hybrid or online course, it’s vital to know whether your final will be online or in print. Often, courses will have both, and you don’t want to miss an entire section just because you didn’t know about it.
How much of the overall grade does it count for?
At the beginning of the course, your professor probably went over how much the final is worth in regards to your overall grade. Ask the question again. Sometimes, the weight of a final will change depending on how the class is progressing.
5. How much of the test is based on the lecture material?
If you are in a course where there is a huge lecture component, it’s good to know how much will be lecture-based and how much will be directly from the book. That way you can focus your study where it will be most effective.
6. What is the structure of the test?
In addition to how much will be based on lecture, you need to know the structure of the final exam. Is it true/false? Multiple choice? Multiple-multiple choice? Will there be an essay component? Then, look up test strategies for that particular test structure.
7. Will there be some extra-credit questions?
It’s always good to know how many extra points you can earn if you happen to screw up. Every little bit helps.
8. Are there alternative testing methods?
If you are a student who has test anxiety, problems with comprehension, or any other documented testing issue, you need to advocate for yourself and ask for an alternative assignment. A good professor will have an option that will allow you to be successful no matter what your circumstances.
9. Will the final exam include a practical element?
Some courses – like nursing, foreign language, or laboratory science – might have a practical element or lab component. Make sure you know that ahead of time so that you are prepared interact on test day.
10. How much time will we have for the test?
It’s always good to know how much time and how many questions are on the test. That way, you can gauge your progress and track how long you spend on each section. It’s the best way to ensure you complete the whole thing.
11. Will there be a retest?
Although some professors have a high-stakes mentality (“One strike, you’re out”), many professors have an option to retake the test if you do poorly. Know this ahead of time so that you can plan accordingly. If you feel that the first attempt won’t be successful, don’t panic and find out more ways on how to live through finals to improve your chance to get high scores.
12. How will the test be graded?
Will your professor be grading on a curve? Will certain questions be given more weight than others? Try to get the grading rubric ahead of time so that you can make sure your answers (especially essay answers) meet all the criteria of an A+ final.
13. Is there a practice test available?
Preparation is the name of the game. If there are practice questions or a full-on practice final you can take, get that information now. You’ll be able to see your weaknesses right away and really focus your studying on what you need to learn.
14. What supplies do I need to bring?
Some professors will have all the supplies you need on the day of the test. Others may ask you to bring pencils, “little blue books,” or calculators. Take it from the pros – you don’t want to be the one student who shows up to the calculus final without a graphic calculator.
15. What are the rules for the test day?
For every teacher and course, there will be slightly different variations. Some teachers have rules about the spacing of the desks. Others say it’s okay to work in teams to finish the final. Whatever the individual rules in your classroom, make sure you know them so that you don’t break them.
Any questions? Go ahead, comment below!
Useful samples and examples: