You’re sitting in your room on a Sunday night, business as usual, when all of the sudden you hear multiple voices shrieking next door and in the distance. What time is it? What’s happening? No, it’s not the end of the world (although it may soon feel like it), it’s only midnight and finals week has officially started at MSU. By 12:15 a.m., the noise has stopped and there’s nothing but piercing silence as the anxiety of the next five days sets in. Whether you have two exams or five, you feel the pressure to succeed so you can get out of East Lansing or at least be done so you can enjoy your summer. This means spending hours at the library with your face buried in a book or glued to your laptop as you attempt to get a handle on all the material you’ve learned this past semester. So, how do you survive this week without pulling your hair out? HerCampus has the tips to show you how.
Divide the Pie: Studies show that the best way to retain information is by gradually examining the material, not by cramming. Your mind needs time to process the information it’s receiving. That means two things: one, you can kiss your grand idea of pulling an all-nighter goodbye and two, as long as you tackle your studies in sufficient increments you have room to “play” a little. Studying for two hours with a 30-60 minute break in between is much better for your mental stamina than forcing yourself to stay hunched over a table in a room lit by fluorescent lights all night. Plus, taking breaks every so often will more likely force you to jump back into your studies because you’ve rewarded yourself for the time you put in studying.
Social Studies: Have a study session with your friends. This can alleviate the pressure of trying to master course materials all by yourself. It’s also great motivation to know that the people you like the most are right there with you because you’re all in the same situation.
Download some self-control: Let’s face it, saying you’ll start reviewing from promptly 7:30-9:30 doesn’t always work; things happen and you can get distracted. Just for that, there’s an app called Self-Control that “blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a predetermined period of time…Once started, it can not be undone by the application, by deleting the application, or by restarting the computer – you must wait for the timer to run out.” Lord knows Tumblr, Facebook, and YouTube are great procrastination tools just as much as they are distractions. Thus, this app helps contain your social media urges. It’s only available for Mac OS X systems, but thankfully there are other alternatives out there such as Self-Restraint for Windows and Linux or StayFocusd which is based online.
Take in some tunes: Listening to music while you study helps keep you focused. Classical is often most recommended by psychologists, but that doesn’t mean you have to pull out Mozart’s greatest hits. I highly recommend 8tracks.com. You can type in any virtually any description for the type of music you want and it give you playlists that match your search. There are 200+ with the tag “study music” alone. Check it out!
Change your setting: You don’t have to be diagnosed with ADHD to feel restless after a long period of time. Switch it up! There are plenty of places on and around campus for you to study. From the study lounge in your dorm to the Union and from the library to Starbucks, don’t restrict yourself to one location.
Now you know how to study, but what do you do when you want nothing more than to just pack up and go home? Procrastinate. Yes, I said it. Believe it or not, there’s a proper way to do it:
Move Your Body! Working out is one of the best stress relievers. According to stress.about.com, “Exercise can decrease ‘stress hormones' like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body's ‘feel-good’ chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost.” In addition to fighting off stress, you’re also fighting off stubborn fat. Cortisol is known to trigger fat tissues in your mid-section. So, making the choice to workout not only throws off extra stress caused by finals, it fights the dreaded muffin top. So, why not take the chance to workout? Plus, it keeps you looking good even though you may not feel it inside.
Take a Tumbl. The “tumbl” I speak of has nothing to do with gymnastics; I’m referring to Tumblr, the largest collection of blogs on the blogosphere. It’s a great source of art, fashion, photography and more! Take a break from the sea of words and embrace the visuals by discovering a blog about architecture, French fashion or shoes! Even if you’re not into Tumblr, there are sister sites such as Pinterest and Weheartit that have the same concept. The point is to take your mind to a place far from your studies for a little while.
Take a nap. When we were younger, our moms always stressed the importance of getting enough sleep. We all know it, and it’s still the truth. There’s no point in depriving yourself of sleep when that’s all you’ll be thinking about while you take your exam the next morning. Relax.
The last and most important tip to surviving finals week is to constantly tell yourself not to give up. You may think that your constant struggle in a certain class all semester renders your grade on the final exam useless, but keep pushing! Remember, all the information covered on the exam has been seen before. So, maybe you’re not doing so well in the class, but it’s the same material you’ve been battling; at least it’s not anything new! Sometimes all it takes is a second (or third, or fourth) look. One week won’t determine the rest of your life. Breathe. It’s not the end of the world.