Finals Week Preparation: A Step-by-Step Guide For Success


Gabbi Decareau

As December rolls around, students are already dreading the last week before winter break. Instead of planning out an itinerary for that upcoming excursion to a tropical paradise or decorating households, students are stuck cramming for finals. 

Finals aren’t just any test. They are a combination of exams that draw upon students’ knowledge from the entire semester. At Miramonte, every class weighs their final exams differently. In an AP class, final exams are typically 15 to 20 percent of a student’s final grade, and 10 percent in a regular class. A good score could boost students’ transcript grades from a B to an A, or could affect their grades by only a percentage or two. In order to succeed, planning and execution are critical. Here is a step-by-step guide that will earn any student a top grade on their final exams.

1. Start Early!

Start studying for finals two to three weeks before the first exam, and figure out how much time is needed to set aside for each class. Some classes require more studying time, so organizing a schedule ahead of time is extremely helpful. Not only will this lessen the chance of cramming at the last minute, but you will be able to set your priorities straight. “I use google sheets to list out all my classes and then I organize them in order by nearest to farthest away exam date. Then I link study guides, review packets, and any other resources under each class with a due date. From there, I am able to get a sense of when I need to study for each class and how much material I have to review before the date of the final,” junior James Mackenzie said.

2. Check Canvas

Whether you are looking for a study guide, or simply the date of the exam, each class’ Canvas modules and homepages can keep you up to date with teachers’ most recent study guides and useful information. “Canvas is a useful platform because it’s very organized and you can view everything that you’ve done the whole semester. I usually look at review guides from past tests and try to redo them to study,” senior Ricky Davis said.

Additionally, reviewing the grade book and paying extra attention to assignments or assessments that you may not have scored well on could further improve your knowledge of these challenging topics. 

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Your Teachers

Asking for help is one of the best ways to prepare for finals. After all, your teachers are the ones creating your final exam. Ask as many questions as needed; your teachers are there to offer support in every way possible. Some questions could include: When is the final? What is on the final? What is the format of the final (multiple choice, presentation, essay)? How should I improve my explanation? Why is this formula more effective than the others? I don’t know where to begin, could you please walk me through this problem? From here, you should be able to make a plan and study more effectively every day. 

4. Attend Exam Jams (If Offered) & Make Use of Academy

Not every teacher offers an exam jam, but if one is ever offered, take advantage of the opportunity and attend it. Exam jams can be super beneficial as they support and assist students who are preparing for finals. Teachers use the space to provide extra support, answer questions, and help prepare students to the best of their abilities. Students may use the space to study by themselves or with peers, familiarize themselves with test formats, and review with their teacher if stumped. “I attended a couple of exam jams my freshman year which helped me recognize the material I still needed to study,” senior Zoe Petty said.

Similar to exam jams, Academy can be used as a study space or for students to ask questions. Figure out which classes you need extra support or review in, and sign up for Academy sessions two weeks before finals.

5. Prioritize Sleep!

While it may be tempting to pull an all-nighter and cram everything in at the last minute, there are ways to avoid being in that situation. Studies show that not enough sleep leads to increased levels of stress and shortened retention of information. Try to get seven or more hours of sleep every night. Plan ahead and study in smaller increments so you don’t deprive yourself of sleep. “Sleep is incredibly important to your brain’s ability to function properly. If you don’t regulate your sleep schedule, especially before finals, you will inevitably find more difficulty in doing well,” sophomore Wyatt Johnson said.

6. Determine What Works Best For YOU

Study habits differ for each student. Figure out what works best for you, and stick with it. Don’t let other students’ study habits influence yours unless it works best for both of you. Develop good study habits and a well-balanced schedule, and you will be on your way to success. “I found that studying with friends is super beneficial for me because we can bounce ideas off one another and also my friends help me remember the challenging material in ways I would’ve never thought of,” junior Will Hashimoto said.

7. Try Using a Final Grade Calculator

If you are curious about if you will meet the target grade for each class, search and enter the required details. The website is a great resource and accurately calculates what you need to score on your final exam based on the weight of the final, your current grade, the grade you want to end with, etc. 


Studying for final exams and preparing for the big week may seem overwhelming, but don’t fret. There are many ways you can eliminate that unnecessary stress. Follow these seven steps to the best of your ability and apply it to all future exams. You got this!