So You Want to Survive Finals

Summer is right around the corner everyone! But before college students can put away the books and start their summer jobs, they have to take finals. While it may be the week dreaded most by students, I am here to help you make them a bit more bearable. Surviving finals is not about studying 24/7 and drowning in a sea of books and energy drinks… well, at least not all of it. The key to surviving finals is about finding a balance between healthy study habits while maintaining your physical and mental wellness. Here are some ways to find this balance, so we can all thrive during finals week.


Please, for the love of God, take care of yourself.


I know we will all forget to do this, so that’s why it is FIRST on this list. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to make sure that you are taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally.


If you’re feeling stressed, try an exercise break. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym for 2 hours and sweat your life away, but even a little bit of yoga in your dorm room or a body pump class can release some tension and stimulate the brain. Meditation is also a great alternative–Headspace is a great website and app that teaches about the benefits of meditation offers guided meditations!


GET SOME SLEEP!!! What they say is true, sleeping is one of the most important things you can do to give your brain the rest it deserves to maintain proper function.


EAT AND DRINK WATER! Your brain is the hungriest organ in your body and, when it works overtime, it’s even more important that you are properly fueling it. Eat plenty of variety and pack some snacks to bring to the library, you never know when brain hunger may strike! Similarly, make sure to have water with you when your studying to keep yourself hydrated.


Make a study schedule


Personally, I feel very unorganized and stressed if I don’t have my months, weeks, or even individual days planned to the hour. When it comes to planning my studying time, I enjoy knowing that I have managed to separate my time beforehand rather than getting caught up into one subject and not having enough time for everything. You can find study schedule templates to print out online or you can make one yourself and customize it to your likes and preferences.


So, in making a study schedule you have to remember two things. First, it is more productive to revisit a subject for a shorter time period every day than it is to spend one whole day on one subject. Schedule an hour or two into each day to study for calc and then schedule more one or two-hour blocks to study the other subjects each day. The second tip is to make sure you schedule in study breaks. I find it helpful to tell myself, “Okay, you have 1 or hour to study this and then you get to go online shopping,” because I can see and know I have a break to look forward to. Also, breaks allow the brain to refresh and give you time to relax between your hard work.


*Pro tip! If you are writing an essay (or multiple essays), give your brain a break by stopping every 20-30 minutes. I know this might be hard to stick to, especially in a crunch time situation, but it’s proven you will be more efficient and your ideas will be clearer if you allow your brain to recharge!


How to find out what study method is best


I know it may be a lot of time and energy spent on making these study tools, but it will all be worth it in the end. Study guides, flashcards, powerpoints, diagrams, practice problems… whatever floats your boat. Everyone has different methods of studying, but here are some tips on what form of studying may be beneficial for certain subjects.


For factual-based classes with tons of information that needs memorizing, I would suggest a study guide based off of in-class notes/lectures. For me, I go back through my notes and type them into a study guide and also add information I may have come across in research, experience, or assigned readings. If there are any diagrams or charts relevant to the notes, add them! Visual aids are often easy to remember and break up the massive volume of words.


*Pro tip! Use symbols when writing notes! Exchange “and” and “at” for “+” and @. It may sound silly, but it really does make paragraphs easier to read.


Flashcards may be a good idea in order to memorize those formulas provide in math or science. And do practice problems! The formulas and concepts will become embedded in your brain with more practice.


For classes that introduce a lot of vocabulary, dates, or events, flashcards could also be a good choice.


Test yourself on conceptual topics, processes, or important timelines by explaining it to someone. Explaining something in your own words will help you to assess your knowledge and hearing yourself speak it will further embed it into your memory.


Remember… find the study habits that work for you and work a little bit at a time. Hopefully, these tips help you out along the dreadful journey of finals week and make them a little less miserable. Also, if you take anything from this article, please make sure you are taking care of yourself both mentally and physically even if you aren't taking finals and have papers instead. With that, I wish everyone the best on their exams, papers, and final projects and I hope everyone has a great summer… HAGS <3