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How To Survive Finals As A Freshman

Let's be real here, finals in college are seriously scary. There is no lack of stress or anxiety associated with these end of semester tests, no matter who you talk to.  For a new freshman who has just recently adjusted to all of the changes that come with transitioning from high school to college, it can seem like an impossible hurdle to jump over. Especially so early in college. But with some adjustment and a bit of time, these tests won't seem so scary, and you'll be cruising through!

Don't Psych Yourself Out

Yes. Finals in college are on a different level than in high school. A final in high school might have consisted of a simple test to conclude the most recent unit or might have been an exam to wrap up the class. Those days might be long gone and simple exams might now be replaced with cumulative exams that are worth up to 30% of your final grade. But, don't worry yourself.  These exams are matched to what you are learning now, which is much different than what you learned in high school. You are completely capable of getting through these exams. If you have been able to tackle the material throughout the semester, then you will be able to tackle it on the exam.

Get Advice From Upperclassmen 

In this situation, definitely look towards some of the upperclassmen that you know and ask them for any advice they might have on getting through. They were where you are now (some time ago), and are always willing to share pieces of wisdom regarding study spots and strategies that helped them get through these exams. These bits of advice can be quite helpful, and I would recommend taking them in stride. See which of the pieces of advice work best for you, although some might work better than others. But as you might hear quite often, trial and error is all part of the process.

Find The Best Study Space

Over the course of the semester, you have probably managed to find a few libraries and study spots that work the best for you. I am going to let you know that when finals come along, you will more than likely have to discover some new study locations. As a freshman, the most common study locations are the most alluring. This leads to studying at the more well-known libraries and common study rooms around campus. In the time leading up to finals, the most well-known libraries and study spots around campus become more crowded. During "Dead Week" or the week directly before finals, all of the most common study areas around campus become crowded beyond capacity. To avoid this, it will definitely be best to scout out some of the lesser known study areas around campus. Scout out some of the smaller less well-known libraries and study rooms around campus. As this will definitely be helpful for all-around focus and productivity.

Do Not Cram

This is one of the most important things. Start studying for finals at least 1 week in advance if not earlier. This way, you can slowly go over the material for the exam unit by unit in a way that makes it stick for you. Whatever you do, DO NOT CRAM. Do not leave studying for an exam until the last minute, especially a large cumulative exam that covers material from the whole semester. Studying a whole semester's worth of material in a short period of time will only lead to exhaustion and confusion. As well as the inability to distinguish one term from another when they become a blur in your mind. So be sure to give yourself plenty of time to study the material before finals begin.

Take Care Of Yourself

Finals can be a stressful time, especially when you are new to them. So make sure to take some time out of your busy study schedule to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Don't let yourself get so overwhelmed mentally that you can't focus on the material that you need to remember. Don't let yourself get so stressed physically that your body can't take anymore and you wind up getting sick. If you feel as though you are pushing yourself too hard, allow yourself to take a break. It's all about balance, and finding that balance during the stressful time that is finals is more important than ever. 

Just take it one step at a time and before you know it, you'll have gotten through your first finals!

Samantha is currently a student at CU Boulder majoring in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. She is a lover of all things salted caramel and all things music, having been in choirs for over 7 years. When she is not writing for Her Campus or studying biology, you can almost always find her in the middle of her personal therapy (singing) or curled up watching romcoms on Netflix with bowls of popcorn.
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