Do Students Actually Study for Final Exams?

Final exams are later in January. This leads to the question, do students study for exams? All students are different, and how they study can also be different. Some differences include where students study, how long they study, and what classes they prioritize.

I sent a Google Form survey to many students across Wake County. The survey asked, “Are you planning on studying for final exams in January?” The survey then asked follow up questions: “If you answered no- why?”, “If you answered yes- how long are you planning to study?” and “ If you answered yes- where are you planning to study?” The responses showed that 88.2% of students planned to study. However, 11.8% indicated they did not plan to study.

The main reason that students said they were not planning to study was because of senior exemptions. Senior exemptions are only for seniors and only for teacher-made exams. Everyone must take state exams. One student said, “I qualify for senior exemptions, so I probably won’t be taking any of my finals.” Because seniors are exempt, many do not take their teacher-made final exams. 

For the students planning on studying for their final exams, the time they planned to study ranged from one to two hours to two weeks before the exams. Some students prefer to spread their studying over a couple of weeks rather than a night or two nights before the exam. The amount of time needed to study also varied by class. One student noted, “Depends on how hard the class is.” For harder or more challenging classes, students are more likely to spend more time studying. 

Another key factor in studying is the place. Students may feel more comfortable studying in a quiet setting, but others want a more comfortable place. From the survey, 60% indicated they would study at home. The library was the desired study spot for 20% of the students who responded, and 13% planned to study at Starbucks. The key was how distracted students get. Some students are more easily distracted, so studying at home or a coffee shop might not work well. Other students can focus more easily, so where they study does not matter as much.

Differences in learning styles can explain these differences in time and place. “The phrase ‘every child learns differently’ is often used to refer to a child’s learning style. Learning styles are generally divided into three categories: (1.) visual learners, who need to see it to know it, (2.) auditory learners, who need to hear it to know it and (3.) tactile/kinaesthetic learners, who prefer a hands-on approach.” https://www.edubloxsa.co.za/every-child-learns-differently-or-dont-they/. Students usually know what type of learning and studying works best for them to retain the material, so they can adjust the time and place needed to prepare for exams. 

All students are different. Even though the amount of time they spend studying and where they study can be different, students generally hope for the same outcome: a good grade!

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