Tech Tips for Acing Finals | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh

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Tech Tips for Acing Finals

Finals week. A rollercoaster of cramming, all-night study sessions, and an alarming spike in caffeine consumption. It doesn’t have to be that bad. Students can prepare for the final stretch using an array of cutting-edge technological resources that can greatly enhance your efficiency and effectiveness. So stop worrying and start preparing!

Confirm the What, When and Where

Review your courses in Canvas to confirm the dates and times of final exams or when term papers or projects are due. Jot them down somewhere you can easily see them. Then review the final exam content and format, or the grading rubric for a paper or project, so you know exactly what you need to do and know. It can also be helpful to look at your current grade in the course and what you need to earn on the final to get the grade you’re hoping for.  

Pace Yourself and Create a Schedule

Treat finals week like a marathon, not a sprint. If you've put in the work all semester, preparing for finals can be a breeze. But even if you fell off the study wagon, it's a good idea to pace yourself. Trying to cram a semester's worth of information into your head in one night can backfire. Organize your work and resolve any questions you have now. Then create a formal study schedule using Outlook Calendar so you aren’t scrambling to do five things at once. Give yourself plenty of time to submit assignments, so that if you have technical issues, the Pitt IT Help Desk will have plenty of time to help you resolve the problem.

Work with Others

Studies show that just rereading all the chapters is not generally a successful study strategy. While “overlearning” can be helpful when trying to master a specific skill, it can overload you when trying to review an entire semester’s worth of content in multiple classes. Short study sessions, testing yourself, and teaching others are more effective strategies. Creating a study group where you meet for an hour to review content, quiz each other/use flashcard, and diving up the content in advance and then taking turns explaining the major themes to each other are fantastic options. Consider using Zoom or Teams to schedule a review session and meet online. Alternatively, reserve a collaboration space in David Lawrence Hall or Hillman Library to meet up as a group.

Rewatch Lectures

Did you miss a lecture because you were sick or slept through your alarm and missed class? You don’t want to miss any important material that may be on your final exam! Or maybe the content of lectures that occurred weeks or months ago is feeling a little fuzzy now. Rewatching lectures is a great way to review content to ensure you understand the material. Fortunately, many instructors record their lectures. On your Canvas course page, click the “Panopto Video” link to access recorded video lectures (if provided by your professor). You can turn on closed captioning to help you understand what the instructor is saying. You can also adjust the video speed settings to watch your lectures at your desired pace — slower if you need a little more time to absorb something complicated, or faster if it’s just a quick review. It’s all in your control!

Choose the Right Location, On or Off Campus

The Pitt IT Student Computing Labs are available before and throughout finals week. They can provide a quiet, well-equipped place to study. All the software you could need is available from every powerful machine, along with large screen and ergonomic workspaces.

That said, how awesome would it be to have a personal on-the-go lab? Studying is easier in your jammies, at home, with access to snacks. Luckily, the Pitt IT Virtual Computing Lab enables you to remotely access all the lab software and resources that you would get while sitting in a Pitt IT Student Computing Lab on campus, accessible 24/7, without overtaxing your device. To get started, check out and log in using your University computing account. Then navigate to “Pitt IT- Virtual Student Computing Labs” to get started.

See the Sun

Every once in a while, you’ll need to turn off the coffee IV drip, put down the computer, and take a break. Get some fresh air during finals week and head outside, to help reduce stress. Even something as simple as a 10-minute walk between study sessions can clear your mind and decrease your stress levels. You can even set yourself up on the Cathy or William Pitt Union lawns and do some studying outdoors using Pitt IT’s outdoor Wi-Fi service.

Get Tech Help ASAP

When it comes to preparing for finals, you want to ensure you maximize the time you spend studying. Don’t waste hours trying to work through a technical problem, when you can have a professional help you resolve it in minutes? You’ll maximize the use of your time and avoid a lot of panic! If you run into technical problems, visit the Pitt IT website at to do a quick search to see if you can resolve your issue quickly. Or just contact Technology Help Desk right away by calling 412-624-HELP (4357), shooting a quick email to, or using the live chat. Whatever the problem may be, Pitt IT is here to help!

Best of luck with your finals, Panthers. Let’s ace those exams and sail into the summer feeling good.