The semester is wrapping up, those big projects are due, you’re cramming to finish writing those term papers, and college finals are coming. Over the course of finals week, students usually have two goals: to do well on exams and to keep stress to a minimum. We've all felt the stress of finals week before, and we have some good news for you.
First things first: you’ve got this! You've been putting in hard work all semester and you've already learned the material you need to know. If you still don't feel like you've got this after that little motivational speech, we're here to tell you that you’re in the right place. Read on for 10 tips that will help you have a better finals week, plus a few added tips for the day of your final. Let’s get to it.
1. Take care of yourself. The first step to doing well on your finals is to put yourself first! Don’t live off of caffeine, takeout/fast food, and 2 hours of sleep. Nobody functions properly when treating your body like that. Drink water, not just coffee, soda, and energy drinks. If you’re short on time, grab pre-prepared salads, sandwiches, and snack cups at the store for a healthier alternative to fast food. Aim for at least 6-7 hours of sleep a night. It’s tempting to stay up late cramming, but sleep will almost always do you more good than pushing through.
2. Take it easy on the caffeine. We get it. It’s finals week and you’re probably losing out on sleep to study for your chemistry test in the morning. If you weren’t able to get a good night sleep, a little caffeine could be just what you need. too much caffeine could make you jittery, increase your anxiety, give you headaches, and interfere with your sleep later on. Just remember that caffeine does not equal sleep, so try to take it easy.
3. Know when and where your exams are. Nothing is worse than arriving to your classroom the morning of your final only to discover that it’s not being held in the same room you’ve been meeting in all semester. Look up your final exam schedule ahead of time. Knowing what time and where your final exam is can help alleviate a little stress.
4. Learn how you learn. Most of us were not blessed with photographic memory to help us through our exams. Make sure that you’re spending your college final study time wisely by studying the way you learn best. Try color coding, online flashcards, or smart note taking to help you pass your college finals.
5. Take study breaks and pace yourself. Nobody said you have to do all of your studying in one sitting. Pace yourself with timers. Your brain can only process so much information at a time. Try setting a timer for 30-60 minutes of uninterrupted study time, then take a 5-15 minute break. Need motivation to study? Incentivise yourself with snacks. Reward yourself with a gummy bear for every page you read or a bite of a cookie for every three pages of notes you review. Study time doesn’t have to be miserable.
6. Turn off social media. Nothing kills a good study session like a notification from Instagram -- lets be honest, we were waiting for an excuse to pick up that phone and stop studying anyways. Turn off your social media notifications, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” or leave your phone in another room while studying. If you’re going to put the time into studying for college finals, do it the right way! There are even apps that reward you for staying off of your phone.
7. Move! If you feel yourself starting to become unproductive while studying, get up and move! Use one of those study breaks to go for a walk, do some stretches, get outside, or hit a quick gym workout to get your blood flowing. Studies have even shown that you memory is improved when you workout.
8. Sleep on it or switch subjects. Another finals study tip for when the study session starts to go stale: go to sleep or switch to a different subject. Like we said above, the brain can only process so much information in one sitting and sometimes the best way to retain that information is to sleep on it. If you feel like you have too much to do to sleep, switch to a different subject for a while to give your brain a little rest.
9. Go to the library.Try studying for your college finals somewhere other than your apartment or dorm room. Apartments are full of distractions but school libraries were meant for this kind of thing. If the sound of other stressed out students in the library is too much for you, try that little coffee shop down the street or your local Starbucks (coffee + wifi = the perfect combo for a killer study session).
10. Join a study group. There are so many ways to study for finals - you don’t have to study alone! Join a class study group or find a study partner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; reach out to the class TA or use campus tutoring to help you understand the topics you’re struggling with (most campuses offer free tutoring, and don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s their job!)
The night before:
Set multiple alarms. If you’re someone who could sleep through a hurricane, set multiple alarms. Take it from the girl who almost missed a law class final, you do not want to sleep in on a final exam day. Make sure your sound is turned up loud, use multiple devices if you have to, or try putting your phone across the room so you are forced to get out of bed.
Get plenty of sleep. Your nerves will be going crazy in the morning, but at least you’ll be functioning on more than two hours of sleep.
The day of:
Eat! Hopefully you got a good nights sleep, now really start your body off right by feeding it. Eat more than just coffee and avoid sugary cereals and treats if you can -- nobody wants to sugar crash in the middle of an exam. If you’ve planned it right, hopefully you picked up something a little more healthy from the store for breakfast.
Bring your supplies. Have a few extra sharpened pencils in your bag -- either you or someone near you will end up needing them. Make sure to have a couple sheets of scratch paper in your bag, and extra batteries for that calculator just in case.
Relax. You’ve got this. You studied hard for your final exams and you’re ready for this.
Treat yourself! You did it. Your exams are over. You don’t have to worry about those again for a while, and I bet you did really well on them. Take some time to treat yourself. Go get a sweet treat, a new shirt, or see that movie you’ve been dying to see.
A good finals week performance may seem like an impossible feat, but you can do this! Hit the books, stay focused, work hard, and take care of yourself.. Finals week will be over before you know it and those grades will reflect all the hard work you’ve put in all semester long! Good luck!
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Sierra is Bella Ella Boutique’s fashion and lifestyle blogger. Along with fashion, she has a love for succulents, graphic design, and fitness. On the weekends, you can catch her hiking in the mountains or trying out a new place to eat.
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