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Tips for winning finals online

A female student leans over her laptop, while taking notes.


Taking finals online can bring lots of challenges. Not only are you studying in a new environment, but you can’t participate in typical finals week activities like hanging out with friends or petting the therapy dogs at the IMU.

That doesn’t mean that everything is out of your control, though. Kyle Votroubek, staff therapist at University Counseling Service, has some tips on how to make finals online work for you.

Get comfortable

Taking finals at home means you have more control than ever over the environment. “Everyone had to cram into small desks in fluorescent lighting with other people around to take tests. This is not the case now. Now, you get to decide what would be best for you! Did you always wish you had more space?  A more comfortable seat? A glass of water? Will it be nice to not see other people finishing early?” says Votroubek.

Talk to your family or roommates

With everyone being stuck in one place, it can feel like there is too much going on. Let them know you are taking finals and come up with a plan that creates an environment you can focus in. Maybe they could go on a walk for a bit or you could just ask for them to remain quiet during that time.

Physically do something with your distractions

Leave your phone in another room. Votroubek recommends downloading the app Forest, which can help limit phone use and cut distractions.

Reach out to those around you 

Find a study partner and hold each other accountable. Even if you can’t study together in person, you can help each other create things like study guides or flashcards. You can also reach out to your professors and TAs – they are here to help you succeed!

Give yourself breaks

Decide what you will accomplish that day and give yourself permission to stop when you are done with that much. It’s nice when the end is in sight and much harder to focus if you feel like you should just keep going forever,” Votroubek says.

Good luck on finals, Hawkeyes!

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