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How to Prepare For Finals: Study and Self-Care Tips

The days are getting shorter, time is running out and soon enough, fall semester will come to a close. Where has this semester gone?! It seems like yesterday I was moving into my apartment and hastily walking through the crowd during Quad Day in August, but here we are now: December!  With the holidays and excitement of winter break in the near future, we students still have an important obstacle to overcome: finals week. For most of us, this is a very stressful time of the year as we put the finishing touches on our final projects, reread our essays for the hundredth time, and make last minute quizlets in the library at 2 a.m. With all of the tension and high expectations, it can be hard to enjoy this special time of the year, so it’s important to prepare for finals in an effective way that won’t put too much stress on your mental AND physical health. Here are some beneficial tips to help you with your exam preparation and most importantly, taking care of your overall well-being.

1. Study With Friends And Quiz Each Other

When I say “study with friends,” that doesn’t mean going to the library and totally goofing off and making no progress in your work. To have a successful study session with friends, try going to the Gregory Hall Library, Undergraduate Library or Main Library because you can talk quietly with each other and quiz one another while still being productive. Another effective study method is actually teaching your friends what you’re learning about in your classes because that will help you reinforce the information. Your friends might also learn something new too!

2. Caffeine, Caffeine, Oh and More Caffeine!

I’m a huge coffee drinker and usually have about 2-3 cups a day and it really helps me stay alert and motivated when I’m studying for my exams. According to Nestle, “coffee can help drive attention to the main task, which in this case, is studying. Especially when there are many distractions around, coffee helps draw attention to what needs to be learnt, increasing focus and making the studying process more productive.” Caffeine also improves our short term memory storage when we are learning and going over material, so this is super beneficial when studying for finals. If a cup of joe is not your cup of tea, there are other great caffeine alternatives like matcha tea, green tea, black tea, or energy drinks.

3. Eat Healthy Snacks

Keeping healthy snacks in your backpack when you’re at the library for hours on end is great when you’re preparing for finals. Our brains can’t function when we have no food in our system, so it’s essential to eat foods that are packed with good fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some of the best brain and memory foods are avocados, berries, broccoli, eggs, nuts, dark chocolate (my fav!), salmon and ginger. If you’re at the library and don’t want to bring crunchy celery that’ll make everyone roll their eyes when you eat it, try bringing soft snacks like a hard-boiled egg or mixed berries.

4. Get Your Beauty Sleep

Yes, sleep is necessary during finals. Even if you think studying all night will help you pass your exam, it’ll only make you feel even more tired and will negatively impact your concentration levels. According to U.S. News, “researchers found that students who met an ‘8-hour sleep challenge’ during finals week did better on their exams than those who slept less. The results prove that the college ritual of “cramming” is not necessary for success — and may actually be counterproductive.” There you have it! Try to aim for 7-10 hours of sleep every night, and if you feel anxious about your upcoming exams, taking melatonin is a great way to wind down and get much needed beauty sleep.

Whether you thrive off of these tips or have your own ways of preparing for finals, you will do great on your exams regardless. Good luck!

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Rachel is a junior and the VP of Editorial for The University of Illinois' Her Campus chapter. She is a journalism major on a pre-law track.
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