Tips from an Irvine College Tutor: 5 Things You Might Not Expect About College Finals

It’s just about that time; students are prepping for their first year of college-level final exams. Even students who aced every single one of their high school exams should be prepared for a few differences. The reality is that not only is college harder, but it’s different. Unknown factors can leave students feeling completely overwhelmed and unable to focus on their study tasks. Students who are unsure what to expect the first year of finals should think about the most common things that can trip up them and their peers.


1. Concentration

College finals will take an immense amount of concentration. Students should get used to studying the topic at hand for multiple hours at a time. Although students can take as many breaks as they want during their study sessions, they won’t be able to take any breaks during the exam. It’s tempting to think that a final exam will last for the 55 minutes of the class period, but the block schedule for finals week is completely different. That chemistry class from 10 a.m. – 10:55 a.m. may be from 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. during finals week. Students should be prepared to concentrate on the information and be able to demonstrate their knowledge for well more than an hour (READ: “The Student’s Guide to Study Breaks”).

2. Content

In college, the content students may be tested on is pretty much and ‘anything goes’ situation. Although some professors will give students an itemized study guide, most won’t and they don’t have to. Anything that was taught during the semester can be on the final. One thing that most students forget about is that the information they’re tested on may not necessarily have been covered in class. If the syllabus says chapter 3, then chapter 3 might be on the test even if the professor never talked about it. Always make sure to read the fine print on the syllabus (READ: “How to Get an A Before the End of the Semester”).

3. Explain Yourself

In high school, most students took tests in a matching or multiple choice format. However, this will only be true part of the time in college. Most professors want to be absolutely sure that their students understood the information before they put their name behind a specific grade. College students should be expected to write in an open-answer format or in an essay format, meaning they have to be able to communicate themselves well in words. Additionally, many students think their lecture class final exam (where are there are 200+ students) will have to have a multiple choice format because the professor simply wouldn’t have time to grade all of the essays. Don’t forget, these large classes have teaching assistants to help with grading and other tasks.

4. Extra Credit? (nope)

In high school, many students have the opportunity for extra credit (with the exception of AP courses). This is generally not the case in college. In high school students are still learning how to study and absorb material, which is why teachers may allow for extra credit if they think it’s necessary. In college, students are expected to be able to manage their own time, budget their tasks, and approach the professor for extra help if necessary. College students should never assume they can make up a test or quiz with an extra credit assignment (READ: “Tips From an Irvine Private Tutor: Avoiding Stress During Finals”).

5. Partial answers? (nope)

Many high school teachers will also give credit for partial answers in an open-ended question format. Again, at this age students are still learning how to be students. If they had a question 80% correct their teacher may give them half a point. Once in college, students should not expect this type of leniency. If an answer doesn’t cover all of the points required by the question, it’ll most certainly be counted as incorrect. Students  will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge for every part of the textbook and additional learning materials, not just part of it.

It’s not too late to book your private Irvine college tutor from TutorNerds for college finals. Call us today for more information.

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