Habits to Beat for Finals Prep

Finals week always happens to be one of the worst weeks in any college student’s life. The week itself is full of tests, projects, and papers that students procrastinate on until the last minute. In short, finals suck.  Not only do they suck, but also you are much more likely to pick up some unhealthy habits during finals week. You’ve probably heard people tell you this information before, but maybe this time you will listen to it. Here are unhealthy habits and healthy counterparts to these habits.

Pulling All-Nighters to Study:

All-nighters always seem to be normal during college life in general; however, they always seem to be more prevalent when finals comes around.  Unfortunately, science has told us that all-nighters are not productive ways to study. Your focus and your ability to retain information depletes as you study longer, and sleep is an important factor that not only keeps you healthy, but gets you better grades.

A Healthy Alternative:

This is probably the hardest tool to use and takes a lot of discipline.  Start studying about two weeks before your test. Even if you just go over your notes once every day for two weeks until your test, you might have more luck at retaining more information than if you cram it all in one night. This method takes a lot of planning, but by studying bits of information a few weeks before your test, you keep your mind fresh and ready for more information, also ensuring you get a full nights rest before your test.

Eating Junk Food:

Another unhealthy habit that frequently plagues college students: junk food.  Like with any form of diet, this one takes difficult as well. Who wants to give up sugary/salty/delicious fatty foods? No one. Unfortunately, during finals week might be a good time to make a small change.

A Healthy Alternative:

Instead of going for your favorite junk food, you can do two things.  The first is to eat smaller meals more frequently through the day. Smaller portions are healthier in general, but adding in more meals means you won’t be as hungry (as long as this food isn’t all junk food). The second is to find different snack alternatives that you can munch on and enjoy without gaining all the negatives that come with junk food. With this you can get creative or stick with store bought snacks.

Studying in Bed:

In some psychological study, it was discovered that studying in your bed is not a good idea simply because your bed is where you sleep. Your body associates your bed with sleeping, not with studying, so you don’t retain as much information. Unfortunately, your bed is not helping you here.

A Healthy Alternative:

As comfortable as your bed is, and no matter how much your bed tries to suck you in, you need to find a different place to study. For some study ideas, check out the Her Campus Boise State article on alternative spots to study. Find a place where you can concentrate the best and study there.  Do you have to go to that exact spot every time you study? Of course not, but if you enjoy that spot, maybe you go back when you know you need to spend a few hours studying.

Getting Distracted:

With social media these days, most of the time us college students have a difficult time staying on track. We get caught up with the sounds our phones and computers make when we have a notification, and websites like Netflix draw us in simply by giving us thousands of viewing options online. It’s very easy to sit down for an hour and only look at a book for ten minutes, but don’t get sucked into this pattern!

A Healthy Alternative:

The best method is to turn off all distractions while you work.  Turn off your phone and computer notifications while you work and you won’t be as tempted.  You could also just try to use as much self-restraint as you can and ignore those notifications.  For those who feel like they have no self-control in this regard, there are apps available to keep your social media off limits while studying. While I haven’t tried it, I’ve heard there are apps designed specifically to keep your social media “locked” for a certain amount of time so you can focus on your homework without being distracted. It might be worth the download if it works for you.  For more information on these different apps, check out the Her Campus Boise State piece Five Apps to Own Finals.

Studying for Long Periods of Time without Breaks:

This is something that you need in order to retain more information, but if you’re on a study binge and feel like you’re butter (because you’re on a roll!) then you might forget to get up and walk around for a few minutes. Studies have shown that the first twenty minutes you study are the most beneficial for retaining information because everything’s fresh. After an hour or so of sitting and studying, you don’t retain as much information because you haven’t moved around that much.

A Healthy Alternative:

The best way to avoid these long hours of not breaking is to schedule in your breaks. Try 20 minutes of studying on, 5 minutes off. This way, you can move around in those breaks, use the bathroom, get some water, check social media, get coffee, or do anything you might need to do, and then get back to studying. Once you move around, you’ve gotten your blood flowing again and you’ll be able to continue to retain information. Also, when you get these breaks, you have a reason to focus on your studying and study as hard as you can before you allow yourself to get distracted.


I hope you’ve found these study tips helpful. Happy Finals Week, and may the curve be ever in your favor!