6 Tips for Conquering an Impossible Finals Week

Whether you’re a first-year experiencing the horror that is second-semester finals for the first time or a senior with a bad case of senioritis, we can all agree that finals week is a trying time. Often it feels like there’s simply too much to do in too little time. But, with proper the preparation and expectations, finals week doesn’t have to be all bad. Pick and choose from the tips below, and get ready to conquer the rest of your semester!​

1. Plan Ahead

This may seem obvious, but make sure you know your finals week schedule. Add the blocks of times you’ll be taking a test into your calendar and pencil those due dates into your planner. Seeing deadlines draw closer and closer will remind you how little time you have left in the semester to finish all your assignments, and hopefully will kick your butt into gear. It also helps to write down mini goals for each project or test. Your mountains of unfinished work won’t seem so intimidating broken down into smaller tasks, plus you’ll have the satisfaction of crossing each off at as you complete them. Before you know it, you’ll be almost through!

2. Set Aside Time to Actually Do the Work

The best way to ensure you sit down and actually do the work is to make a point to schedule working periods into your day. Have a solid two hours between a morning meeting and lunch? Or maybe ninety minutes on Saturday before that pregame you’re planning on going to? Head to the library or some other quite space for that time, stow away your phone, close all your social media tabs on your laptop, and just study for those two hours. This way, you’ll be using time efficiently and you won’t feel swamped having to complete three or four major assignments all at once. Make sure to take advantage of the time you’re not in class (if you don’t have a final scheduled) to get some work done. And, in the weeks leading up to finals, if there’s a study session in your class, take it seriously and prepare. You’ll be killing two birds with one stone—attendance and participation in class, and an extra review session.​

3. Procrastinate Productively

If you’re feeling really unmotivated, or your brain has already turned to mush from studying so much, take care of other responsibilities that aren’t finals related. Do your laundry, clean your room, start packing to go home (already!?), practice an instrument or some other skill (chess?) to destress, head down to the KAC or go for a run outside, do the homework you’d rather do that’s not due for another week, or catch up with a friend you don’t get to see very often. Literally anything is better than sitting on your phone or laptop scrolling through memes you’ve already seen before. The change of pace will give your brain the chance to recharge, plus you’ll feel like you’ve gotten ahead in at least one area of your life, even if it’s not your finals.​

4. Take Breaks—and Take Advantage of End of the Year Events

That being said, sometimes you just need to blow of some steam and not think about tests and papers and presentations for a while. Luckily, the weeks leading up to finals are packed full of events. From acapella and dance concerts, to the Gallery openings and Summer Sendoff, there are events nearly every night each weekend—and sometimes even during the week. Whether they’re events to showcase the hard work of your fellow Kenyon students, or simply some designated time to blow of some steam, taking advantage of these breaks will refresh your brain so you can really buckle down when you get back to work. But beware—it’s easy to get so caught up in social life that you start to fall behind on your finals. (And don’t forget about free bookstore coffee to help you power through finals!)​

5. Take Care of Yourself

This may be the most important tip I can give. Yes, passing finals is important but it’s not worth your health, and you’re less likely to do well on your final anyway if you’re not feeling like yourself. So, eat some fruit and veggies, shower, brush your teeth, talk to a friend if you’re feeling down, exercise, and, the number one most important thing you should do that tends to become college students’ last priority—sleep! If the time comes when you absolutely have to pull that all-nighter, you’ll be all the more prepared to handle it if you’re well-rested to begin with.

6. Know When to Give Up

Sometimes, finals week is simply impossible. There’s too much reading to catch up on, too much to review for a huge test, three eight page papers all due on the same day…phew!

If you’ve reached the point where you know everything can’t get finished in time, take a second to stop, and breathe. What seems like an impossible mountain to climb between you and summer break (or graduation—oh my!) will somehow get done, and will feel amazing once it is. That being said, there are some shortcuts to take to make the journey to the end a little less abysmal.  For example, if you really do have three finals scheduled on one day, college policy allows you to seek relief for one of them and have the test or deadline moved. And, in my experience, Kenyon professors tend to be pretty lenient about giving extensions if you demonstrate that you’re really struggling (and not just hardcore procrastinating). Also, at this point, you don’t really need to finish all your readings—one of the most important skills you learn in college is how to skim effectively.  ​The typical college student will suffer through eight (!) finals weeks. Maybe that sounds disheartening, maybe you want to just crawl back under the covers and sleep the whole week, or maybe you’re desperate enough by this point to quit college all together; but just remember—you’ll be so busy that they’ll be over before you know it!


Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7