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Fear of Finals: How to Combat Anxiety & Nerves

Everyone knows that finals week is one of the most stressful weeks for college students as we are tested on the knowledge we have gained over the semester in our classes. Sometimes, these exams are easy because the topics are something that we understand and are applicable to our majors. Others involve massive amounts of vocabulary terms, essays, matching and sometimes math problems that make zero sense to some students. The more material the exam covers, the more fearful we are of not knowing enough. Follow this short guide to know how to best prepare for the upcoming finals week to help avoid (or try to avoid) anxiety and nerves before test day.

Make flashcards, flowcharts, and diagrams

Everyone has their own studying methods that work best for them. For me, it involves flashcards, flowcharts and diagrams. I use flashcards to help me understand terms, a flowchart to understand theories and concepts, and a diagram to help me label different parts of a system or, in the case of science and anatomy, a body. If using your computer helps you to learn, you can also use Quizlet, which allows you to practice flashcards, take practice exams, play games based on your study sets and much more!

Follow the study guide

Most professors will provide you with a study guide for the final exam to help you prepare. Follow this study guide, so you are focused on the proper materials, instead of studying multiple topics that won’t be covered. While the guide itself might be daunting, start with what you know. When preparing, try highlighting in three colors: one for what you definitely know, one for what you kind of understand and one for what you need to look into more. Highlighting your list and working through it to figure out what you really need to work on will help you use your time wisely as you prepare.

Ask your professor questions

Your professor is here to help you, so take advantage of this. In the days leading up to finals, utilize office hours to ask questions in person and get clarification on the most difficult topics. If you can’t make it to office hours, jump on your school email and send a message to the professors asking for help explaining a topic that you are not as clear on as you wish you were. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help. At E-town, your professors will always be willing to help you.

Sleep, Eat, and Hydrate

A snack, some water and a nap can do wonders in preparation for finals week. The day before your exam, and the day of, make sure that you haven’t missed a meal, you’ve had enough to drink and you’ve gotten the right amount of sleep the night before. Going into your exam hungry, thirsty or tired can make it much harder for you to focus and for you to do the best you can on this important exam. If you are allowed, bring a small snack like a granola bar to help you through the exam if you know it is going to be around lunchtime or too early for you to eat a large breakfast. Definitely don’t forget your water bottle.


Tutoring services here at Elizabethtown are a huge deal! We have tutors for nearly every class and every professor to help students through their preparation for exams, understanding concepts, and studying for finals. It is important to know, however, that while we have multiple tutors to help you through the studying process, they might not be as available during finals as they normally would be during the school year. Make sure you schedule tutoring appointments in advance to ensure you get enough studying time in before your final exam.

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Darby Keller


Class of 2020: Social Work Major; Women and Gender Studies and International Relations Minors Vice President and Digital Organizing Captain for It's On Us Elizabethtown
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