Our physical office is open Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 12:00pm and 1:00pm - 5:00pm. Our staff rotates their in-person schedules. They can be contacted through email and Zoom. Most advising appointments will continue via Zoom.  Visit the Campus Return website for university updates. 

Finals Week Tips

Finally Finals: Almost Done or Just Getting Started?
By Jenna Nguo |

Hello Highlanders. It’s finally week 10, the last week of the quarter before finals. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the quarter more difficult with remote learning, but UCR faculty and staff are working hard to support all of you. Whether you are happy that the quarter is almost over or you are just getting started with your studying or both, we’d like to share some tips and resources to help you end the quarter well.


Finals: Prepare in advance

While preparing for finals, 

  • Make note of when your exams and/or assignments are due.
    Try to choose a time to work when you will have the least amount of distractions AHEAD of time. Waiting until the last minute, on top of technical difficulties, can shorten your task time. 
  • Remember to breathe.
    Take the time to take a deep breath and relax before your final. This is especially important if you suddenly have technical problems - breathe, figure out what’s happening, and notify your instructor with the details of your situation as soon as possible.
  • Get rid of distractions.
    In order to focus on your final, close and turn off any unnecessary devices, programs, and browser tabs.
  • Track your time.
    Set an alarm to warn you 10 minutes before your final starts and 10 minutes before your final ends. If you get stuck on a part of your final, come back to it at the end if you can and still have time.


Identify resources

  • Academic support.  

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) offers tutoring as well as writing and reading support for undergraduate students. The GradSuccess Center offers graduate students resources and support for teaching, writing, and research. Your professors and TAs are also here for you. As teachers, they help you learn and succeed in their class. As human beings, they are there for you and can be a resource when to reach out for support.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that academic integrity is a core expectation for students, as outlined in the UCR Code of Conduct. 

  • Mental and physical health support. 

The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office provides free, confidential counseling sessions. You can book a nonclinical 15-minute session with The WELL’s Mental Health Educator to learn more about mental health, self-care, and time and stress management. You can also check out the Student Recreation Center (SRC)’s fitness and cooking classes to help you relieve stress through exercise and prepare healthy meals.

  • General support. 

The Student Affairs Case Management office can aid with any situation by helping you find ways to resolve your problems and connect you with other resources. Another resource available online is AskUCR, a student resource HUB for all your UCR-related questions.


Nurture your body

  • Prioritize sleep.
    Pulling all-nighters before an exam is tempting, but you need a full night’s sleep in order for your mind to absorb and retain any information you reviewed while studying. Start studying early enough so that you have time to schedule in regular breaks.
  • Eat healthy snacks.
    Healthy snacks can help improve your concentration and memory. Energy drinks and junk food might be quick things to eat and drink, but the energy they provide will burn quickly and they’ll leave you worse than you were before consuming them.
  • Plan your meals in advance.
    Remember to eat regular meals. Save study time by meal-prepping the day before or the weekend before.


Act on your goals

  • Study actively, not passively (i.e. re-reading your notes, textbook, or PowerPoint without taking notes). 

Try active studying such as using flashcards, re-writing your class notes on your own, voicing (summarizing), taking practice tests, and teaching the material to someone else.

  • Remember why you started, and reward yourself.
    Remember why it is important to get this done and write it down. Reward yourself with something that will motivate you to get your task done. Don’t reward yourself if you don't complete it.


Learn with others

  • Get a study group together.
    Study groups allow students to share skill sets, improve note-taking abilities, thus making it easier to cover more material and make learning more fun and supportive. Set ground rules to establish expectations, limit off-topic posts or chats, and determine how study time is managed.
  • Use Zoom for your study sessions.
    Zoom has 3 cool features to power up your remote study sessions: (1) Share files in the chat, (2) Create breakout rooms to form smaller discussion groups, and (3) Screen share to allow everyone to view your screen (use the whiteboard feature to draw and type on the same screen in real time).


Schedule your tasks

  • Try to keep to a schedule.
    Treat your life at home as if you were taking classes on campus (i.e. meal times, exercise, entertainment, and enjoyment).
  • Figure out when you work best.
    Plan your study time for when you have the most energy.
  • Minimize your distractions and use the Pomodoro Technique!
    Try setting a time to work for 25 minutes straight without any distractions. Take 5-minute breaks after every 25 minutes to do something for yourself (read, watch a quick video, walk, stretch, drink water, etc.)


Of course, that is not an exhaustive list of resources we have at UCR. You can find more tips at Keep Learning and more resources at AskUCR, and graduate students can go specifically to the Graduate Student Resource Center for more help.


Through all the difficulties during this time, we are here to support you. Reach out to the International Students and Scholars office if you have questions or would like to connect with a student advisor. You have worked hard this quarter to survive in challenging situations like this, and you will continue to grow more resilient for the future and succeed.


We want to hear from you. What have you learned so far? What has helped you? What tips do you have for first-year students? Share your thoughts with us by commenting on the posts for our Finals Week Tips Series at @ucr.iss and @ucrinternationalaffairs, or you can reach out to us by email (internationalaffairs@ucr.edu) and we’ll collect the best tips to share with the entire international community.


Jenna Nguo is a junior at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). She is majoring in psychology and minoring in education. She is currently a Marketing and Communications Student Assistant and Front Desk Assistant at the International Affairs office, as well as a Co-Director of Events and Outreach at Psi Chi, the psychology honor society at UCR.

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