Mi-Term & Finals Exam Survival Guide

Mid-Term and Finals Exam Survival Guide

Once again it’s exam time. You’re stuck inside, studying, while you rather be outside playing in snow, watching TV, catching up on your gaming… Pretty much anything other than study. I know first hand how obnoxious finals can be when they don’t include your basic memorization. Writing papers sucks when all of your classes require them.
Before you can settle in with your notes, armed with cans of energy drinks and index cards, you have to figure out the best way for you to study. To figure out the best way for you to study, you need to figure out how you learn.

Ways of Learning

There are three main ways of learning known as Fleming’s Three Different Learning Styles. I learned about these back when I was in elementary school. Never particularly enjoyed when the guidance counselor held classes, but this was one of the most useful and probably the only thing I remember.

Visual Learning

“Fleming states that visual learners have a preference for seeing material in order to learn it.” (x)

Visual learners are those that need something to physically see. You need physical notes, slides, and tangible things you can look at to be able to focus properly and take in all the information.

This is very much me. I need a physical book over an audio book. I need slides to retain information. I have to write down notes and then re-write them to get it through my head.

Auditory Learning

“With this different learning style, students have to hear information to truly absorb it.”

Auditory learners are everything I’m not. You work better with speakers, with oral notes, participating with groups and such. Basically, you don’t need the physical text like visual learners need.

Kinesthetic Learning

“Kinesthetic learners tend to want to move while learning.”

Kinesthetic learners need to be moving in order to process the information. You work better with acting things out, maybe studying while working out, and conducting experiments.

Things You’ll Need

Now that you know the best way to study by figuring out your learning style, you’ll need to gather your study necessitites.

School Supplies

  • Post-It Notes: Holy Crap, post it’s are amazing. You can write down thoughts when you’re reading, remind yourself to do things, use them as bookmarks… I was late to the post-it note game, but once I learned of their magical powers, I stuck with them. (pun intended)
  • Highlighters: As an english major, needing to remember important information in the drag of a book I just read, highlighters made it easy to go back and look at what I considered important enough to know. (You can also post-it note areas with larger amounts of highlights!)
  • Index Cards: If you have finals where you can actually use them, go for it. But only if you study better that way. Some people learn better with visuals, some through hearing.


  • Mug/Cup: You’re not going to want to get up all of the time, so invest in a large cup or mug to put your drink of choice.
  • Drink of Choice: I was never a coffee person, still aren’t. But coffee, tea, energy drinks and hot chocolate are staples of the cold, sleep deprived student. Make sure you’ve stocked up on whatever your vice happens to be. I do caution the caffeine overload. Energy drinks are tricky little bastards and too much can cause more problems than not being able to fall asleep.
  • Snacks: Like a gaming marathon, you will need snacks. If your finals haven’t started yet, get together with some friends and host a finals snack making party. You can make cookies, brownies (the non-substance induced kinds) candies, chex mix, granola, or even full on meals that you can just pop in the microwave while reading Moby Dick or studying quantum physics. Make sure there is at least some balance of healthy to junk food.


  • Studying Music: I wasn’t big on music while studying until my junior year. I had no reason for background noise, and thought it was more distracting than anything. Then I took a meditation/personal outlook kind of class and it changed my mind on music. I prefer classical music. I actually bought a CD on iTunes specifically for studying and doing better in school.  The tracks have specific uses, where one song called “studying” is supposed to be the best kind of music to help you study. On the other hand, I know people who can’t study without the tv and some kind of general music playing. I wasn’t one to blast 80s rock while trying to read classic literature, but if that’s what works, use it.
  • Comfy Clothes: I remember back in high school, finals week was one of the times where wearing sweatpants to school wasn’t awkward and looked down upon by the teachers. If you’re going to be sitting in a classroom, trying to concentrate on something that can be anywhere from 10%-90% of your semester grade, you damn well want to be comfortable. I’d proudly walk across campus in my sweats, hair up, bulky winter jacket, comfy shoes (some people even wore slippers if it wasn’t snowing/raining) to my finals for the day. I’d look like I just rolled out of bed, but so did a lot of other people.

Honorable Mentions

If you don’t have a pair already, I highly suggest investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Having gone to school in New England, the headphones worked in two ways:
  1. Gave a lovely atmosphere for listening to music without interruption of whatever was happening around me
  2. They doubled as earmuffs. Seriously, it was so great when I realized that the headphones covered my ears in the winter and only my face was numb by the time I got to class.
Blankets/Bathrobe/Snuggie: Anything comfortable and warm you can throw over yourself if need be. On campus the heating systems were hit or miss. Some places the heat broke and would be stuck on 70 all year round, making it warm in the winter and ridiculously hot in the spring/summer. Others, the heat barely worked and blankets were a constant.

Post Final Celebration

If you’re one of the lucky ones to not have finals extend throughout the entire week, congratulations. You get a day or two to rest before your trip home. Whatever your celebration is, whether a night out on the town, drinking with friends (please drink responsibly and preferably not until the legal age limit) a gaming/television show marathon, or anything else, fully enjoy it knowing that all that stress is over with.
  • Figuring out which type of learner you are is so useful. Even if you don’t fall strictly into just one category (like I think I am a visual learner but I’m also good with auditory learning). This way you can find your study method and study more efficiently.

    Also, I love that you mentioned post exam celebration. It is so important to reward yourself after studying for hours and hours. It also helps a lot with motivation during the next semester.

    • I’m such a visual learner, but being an english major didn’t really apply that.

      And there’s nothing quite like the after exam party! (or relaxations)

  • I’ve been living off of rice cakes, sun chips, and hot chocolate for the past week. I also second the suggestion to invest in headphones/earmuffs!

    • They were such a huge improvement of my morning walks to class in New England!

  • This is a great post! I adore post-it notes. When I was younger I just loved sticking them to stuff but I appreciate them so much more now because they are so functional.

    • Thanks! It’s been a while since I’ve had any midterms or finals so I kept my fingers crossed what I remember was still relevant. Lol!