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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

As finals season approaches, school becomes as stressful as ever. It’s that time of year when long nights spent catching up at the library end in sleeping through your 8:30s (been there, done that). It’s when a lot of people start to fall off track with their work, and things start to pile up. Unfortunately, it’s a really bad time to fall off track, given that there are only a few weeks left until finals. But it actually makes a lot of sense; people start to burn out after so many consistent weeks of giving it their all, which happens to be right before the end of the semester. If you feel yourself falling off your game, or have already completely steered off track, now is the time to pick yourself back up. There is still time left to get it together, but if you wait much longer there won’t be. So, here are some tips for getting yourself back on track before finals season (from my not-so-expert perspective, as always).

Don’t beat yourself up for where you’re at

Before even embarking on the great journey that is catching yourself up with your academics, the most important thing is to not beat yourself up for falling behind. It happens to everyone at some point or another in university. Life gets busy, it freaking happens! It is completely unproductive to waste time bashing yourself for falling behind; it takes away from time you could be caring for yourself or time that could be spent actually getting back on track. So, save the self-pity and get to work; or spend the time you would be feeling bad about yourself to rest up, relax, and get ready to put in the work. 

Plan your days and set up work schedules.

I can’t even begin to express how much writing everything down has helped me in school. Being a full time student in 4-5 classes, there’s a lot of work! There are a lot of readings, lecture notes, and practice tests to keep track of—so write everything down! I like to write all due dates and exam dates in my google calendar, and daily/weekly to-do lists on stickies on my laptop. I also love setting reminders/alarms in my phone to know when I need to get started on things. Even if you don’t follow your schedule perfectly, or don’t finish your to-do list one day (which happens to me all the time), just having that structure sets you up for more success than going into the day without a plan. My general rule of thumb is to spend the first 5-10 minutes of my work day planning out the day, and then trying to spend a good few hours getting work done (minus one day off), depending on what other non-class commitments you have that day. 

Catch up on missed course content and readings. 

Catching up by reading your friends’ notes is often helpful, but it’s better to learn the material firsthand (at least as much as you can). If you’ve missed a couple of lectures, I would recommend rewatching them completely if they’re recorded,or reading your profs’ notes if they are available. I also recommend catching up as best as you can on class readings (I know, it’s next to impossible to do every course reading, especially in the humanities). But, readings are such good supplementary resources to help you on final exams, especially if those finals are essays or essay-style. If it’s for a more analytical class (like a math course), doing the missed problem sets and webworks may seem daunting, but is really helpful. For me, practice is the only way I can go into an analytical/practical exam with confidence. So, take that extra time to actually read and do the practice problems, rather than trying to understand the material without actually doing the content. 

Hold yourself accountable. 

While I’m always pro-being gentle and kind to yourself, you can still hold yourself accountable. In the long run, holding yourself accountable is being kind to yourself. If you don’t finish your to-do list one day, don’t beat yourself up, but make sure you set yourself up to finish it the next day. Wake up on time, set multiple alarms, and reward yourself for finishing tasks on time! It is so much easier to be a little bit hard on yourself and put in the work at the end of the school year than it is to sit with guilt after exams when you didn’t work as hard as you could’ve or wanted to. Set up realistic expectations for yourself, and work to fulfill them. Meeting your expectations or doing even better feels really great, and sometimes you need to push yourself to get there—that is okay! 

Now is the time to pick yourself back up if you’ve fallen off in school. If academics are a priority for you,  maybe miss some nights out, it’s not the end of the world. Take extra time for school now, before it’s too late to catch up; unfortunately, no matter how much we like to convince ourselves (myself included) it is impossible to thoroughly learn an entire course worth of material in 3 days!

Layla Artzy

Queen's U '25

I'm a 3rd-year student at Queen's University studying Politics. Some of my favourite things include vegan restaurants, coffee, self-care, the outdoors, and a good time with friends and family!