Every collegiette knows (and dreads) the stress, exhaustion, and anxiety that comes along with finals week. Long nights and test-taking jitters are somewhat unavoidable aspects of college, but Her Campus is here to assure you that you can take your tests with confidence! We talked to Adam Shepard, author of The Best Four Years: How to Survive and Thrive in College (and Life), Bethany Stafford, author of College Studying Styles, as well as seasoned test-taking collegiettes and their friends to get the tips and tricks you need to ace your final exams, from now until test day!
Two weeks before your exam:
Start studying now
Putting off your studying sounds good today, but two weeks from now you’ll be regretting it. Be proactive and don’t let yourself fall victim to procrastination. Have free time now? Begin with the easy, preliminary stages of studying. Break it down: plan how each subject will be studied. “Make note cards or lists or highlight key material—whatever your study system suggests—but start it NOW. This will make your life much easier as test time approaches,” Shepard says.
Taylor, a junior at Boston University, says, “Waiting to start my studying was my biggest mistake as a freshman. My first semester, I waited until three days before my Religion final to crack down and it wasn’t until then I realized how much I really needed to memorize. Needless to say, I was disappointed with myself for putting it off. This semester I made my notecards throughout the semester and I’ve already put together some of my study guide. I’m in much better shape now.”
Take quizzes at the end of chapters:
Taking the quiz at the end of every chapter (if it’s an introductory course) will “give you greater insight to what you need to work harder on and what you have a greater grasp on,” says Stafford. These quizzes will instantly cue you into your strengths and weaknesses. If you feel like you totally understand and are confident with a certain chapter, skip it for right now and head straight to the concepts you’re struggling with.
Prepare your body
Finding time to exercise during finals week can be impossible, but Shepard says that it is essential to “eat right, sleep well, and exercise as you regularly would (whether that might means going for a walk or hitting the weights).” Physical activity helps produce endorphins, and with higher levels of endorphins we experience less of the negative side effects of stress. Stafford agrees. “Studying,” she says, “is all about balance. It’s individualistic. What works for you might be different for another person.” If you’re an avid athlete and exercise helps you relax, take that extra time to hit the gym. Stafford finds that if even if you’re not someone who exercises all the time, “a walk in nature can help make you feel at ease.” So although you feel overwhelmed with the excessive amount of studying that lies before you, take 30 minutes and head to the gym or take a walk. You’ll clear your head, feel refreshed once your workout is done, and head home feeling more motivated to conquer those flashcards.
Abigail, a senior at Lassell College, says, “During finals week I always make sure to work out in order to reduce my stress levels. I have found in the past that if I do not exercise I am not as productive with my studying! After a good workout my mind is clear and I am ready to focus.”