There are a ton of awesome things about college, but finals week is not one of them. By the time you get to the last week of class, everyone’s surviving on sweatpants and Starbucks, and no one wants to do any more work at risk of curling up in a ball in the middle of the library. But you have to study several weeks’ worth of lecture material over the weekend! Goodie!
It may seem extremely daunting to head into finals week, even after years of doing so. I still get anxious about tests even after 5 years of college. But fear not! Those 5 years weren’t totally useless – there are some things you can do to seriously reduce your stress when it comes to exam week. You’ll still have to study but with these tips, you’re well on your way to kicking ass on your finals:
Make a schedule and stick with it
Even if you’re not a planner-obsessed freak like yours truly, making a schedule can seriously come in handy when you have 5 tests and 2 research papers and a group project and…you get the point. Planning out when you’ll study will help you visualize how much time you actually have to get it all done.
You can even determine how much you’ll want to study each subject for. If you’re a math whiz, you’ll probably need more time to struggle through that 12-page comparative lit essay than you need to review your Calc II notes. So make a plan and stick to it!
Don’t overdo it on the caffeine
Okay, I know it feels like you need an extra shot or three in your latte during finals week, but you don’t. Truly. Even though it’s the time in the school year where you feel and probably look like a zombie, trying to substitute coffee for sleep will not make you any more productive. Caffeine is an actual drug, meaning we all have a certain tolerance for it based on our body chemistry and usage.
So if you go over your usual amount of espresso, your body will definitely react to the stimulating effects of caffeine. We’re talking jitters and lack of concentration, which is your worst enemy when you’re trying to remember an entire semester’s worth of information. Stick to your normal tea or coffee intake, no matter how tempted you are.
This tip is a pretty common one, but it honestly works. Rather than relying on caffeine, get your blood pumping by moving around during study breaks. Every hour or so that you’re sitting and working, stand up and stretch out your legs, back, and arms. If you can, walk around for a few minutes to help maintain mental clarity for when you studying.
Just because it’s finals week doesn’t mean you should skip the gym! Getting in a good workout will not only refresh your body but also your mind after a long day of production. If you don’t like going to the gym, try to get some cardio in by taking a walk or dancing around to music. Just be sure to schedule it in along with your studying!
Compromise between studying and sleep
We all know sleep is important, especially when it comes to test time. But what good is it to go to bed at 9pm only to not feel tired until midnight and then stay up another hour stressing about your final? That’s where compromising comes in. Make sure you’re getting a decent amount of sleep each night, but know when to keep working too. If you’re in a groove or you have just one chapter to go, continue studying instead of dropping everything to go to sleep. You’ll feel satisfied rather than anxious.
You should absolutely NOT pull an all-nighter before a test – no matter how much studying you get done, you’ll be so wiped out that you won’t remember anything you read. And even though creativity and procrastination go hand-in-hand, starting an essay the night before doesn’t always work out in your favor. Give yourself time to proofread before handing it in.
Find your motivation
Studying so hard for so long can be grueling, so find what best motivates you and keep it in mind. Motivated by getting an A in the class? You go, girl. Or maybe you’re more inspired by the thought of celebrating after finals week is over? Also awesome. Even short-term motivation, like getting pizza once you’re done for the day, can be helpful to keep you going. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it works for you.
Being with friends can help you feel less stressed but be weary when it comes to study buddies. You don’t want someone to completely distract you from your work. But if everyone’s working hard, having another person by you could be useful in keeping you focused.
Of course, these tips won’t guarantee you an A, but they will help you stay on top of things so that you can earn one yourself. Good luck on your finals!