1. Study well, not hard
If you aren’t studying in a way that works for you, those hours at the library were a waste of your night. Channel into your tried-and-true study methods and stick with them. Unless your study strategies haven’t been working for you, wait until after finals to experiment with new ideas.
“I start out by making a big study guide and reducing it to a cheat sheet,” says Fallon Porter, president of Her Campus at University of Colorado Boulder. “This is great even if you can’t use it on your exam because it breaks the information down in a way you understand and makes it so much easier to memorize.”
If a cheat sheet is still too overwhelming, try memorizing the information in smaller chunks.
“For every exam, I turn all of my lecture notes into notecards,” says Caitlin Taylor, the editor-in-chief of Her Campus at Michigan State University. “That way, I can always study on-the-go, and it makes the big bulks of information a lot easier to digest.”
2. Stick to a schedule
Finals week can be chaotic – not only have you been up all night studying, but your exams are often at a different time than your classes were. Make a schedule for yourself, organizing your time and reminding yourself of where you need to be and when.
Allocating specific time blocks to certain tasks will help you feel productive and guarantee that you can finish everything in what feels like an impossibly small amount of time.
“ I make a schedule of what I need to achieve and divide it out over the time I have left,” says Rachel Cichon, a writer for HC at MSU. “It’s best to leave a little wiggle room at the end in case you fall behind, but usually this keeps me on track and motivated without feeling overwhelmed.”
3. Try to avoid social media
We’ve all been there: You say you’re taking a quick study break to check your Facebook notifications, and an hour later, you’re looking at your friend’s boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding photos. Social media will suck you in, so it’s best to try to avoid it at all cost – you may never get any studying done otherwise. (Plus we are #Done watching your Snapchat Stories pretending to study)
“Something that has helped me focus in times of stress and deadlines is deleting my social media apps on my phone,” says Sarah Sparkman, a writer for HC at MSU. “I find myself going on these randomly, out of habit, even when I’m just in the middle of doing an assignment. So instead of going on my phone to pass time, I can breathe, relax, and think.”
If completely deleting your social media apps sounds a little too daunting, try downloading the SelfControl app for Macbooks or putting your phone on airplane mode.
“It keeps me off of social media and any other sites I choose to block for as long I need, so I can get things done without wandering onto Facebook or obsessively checking my emails to procrastinate actually getting work done,” says Caroline Smith, a writer for HC at CU Boulder.
4. Change up study locations
Staying in one place for too long can make anyone go crazy – or at least make them less productive. Frequently changing up your study location will prevent boredom, keep you engaged and eliminate distractions. Choose a few of your favorite study locations and rotate between them throughout the week.
“Instead of staying at my desk, I try to go to a quiet study room, a Starbucks or coffee shop or the library,” says Allie Goss, a writer for HC at MSU. “I find the change of scenery helpful for me to say focus on my studying and away from distractions that are in my room.”
Trying out lesser-known study spots is also a fun – and effective – way to change up your study locations.
“Our campus has smaller libraries that do not get as packed as than Norlin, our main undergraduate library. My favorite one to study in is the Law Library by Baseline,” says Alexis Berg, a writer for HC at CU Boulder.
5. Dress to impress
It might seem easier to be lazy during finals week – but if you make sure to get enough sleep and actually put yourself together, you will feel a lot better. There’s a reason people keep telling us to dress for the career we want to have.
Actually, there has been a lot of research on something called “dress well, test well” – the belief that dressing nice for an exam will boost your confidence and ultimately help your performance (aka: GRADE).
“Although sweats may be calling your name, try to wear something a bit nicer. Look good, feel good,” says Katie Kochanny, public relations director for HC at MSU. “Get some rest, eat a good breakfast and dress to impress.”
6. Don’t forget about self care
In addition to studying, taking care of both our bodies and our minds will ensure that we will be successful on our exams. Remembering to practice some of your favorite self care strategies will go a long way in making this tough week a little bit easier on you.
“During finals week, I find it easiest to forget about what is best for my overall health. It becomes too acceptable to care more about flashcards than my stress levels,” says Samantha Lewakowski, a writer for HC at MSU. “I try my best to take the time every day to unwind and stop thinking.”
Whether it’s painting, taking a bath, getting lost in a book or even just taking time to prepare a healthy dinner instead of ordering in, don’t let the stress of studying keep you from the things you enjoy.
“Remember that your well being is just as important as good grades,” Sam says.
7. Take (productive) study breaks
Taking a study break may seem counterintuitive, especially when time is dwindling to get all of your assignments done, attend your review sessions, make it to office hours and join those study groups. Rather than burning out, remember to take productive study breaks.
Productive study breaks include getting some things knocked off your to do list like cleaning your room, doing laundry or even working out to burn off some nerves. Taking an hour for a hike or 20 minutes to call a friend from home often helps you reset and come back to your academics refreshed.
“It’s so easy to run yourself out quickly and you need to make sure you have enough energy for the entire week,” says Maddi Harris, a writer for HC at CU Boulder. “Do anything that doesn’t involve stressing about school! Not studying for an hour or two isn’t going to ruin your final exam grade.”
8. Don’t stress!
No matter what happens this week, don’t stress yourself out too much. You’ll make it to all of your exams, you’ll study to the best of your ability and most importantly, it’ll all be over soon enough. Always remember to never sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff).
“My main thing about exam week is not stressing out! You know what you know, and I’m not saying don’t study, but don’t hurt yourself,” says Patty Davis, a writer for HC at MSU.
Happy finals week, collegiettes! You’ve got this. #Slay