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How to Survive Finals Week

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


The semester is finally coming to an end, and the only things standing between us and summer are finals. No matter how many times you’ve been through finals week, it never seems to get any easier. Procrastination is always hard to conquer, and the idea of remembering an entire semester’s worth of information is just as daunting as it was first semester of freshman year.

Everybody learns differently, which makes it hard to give study advice. Maybe you do best with rewriting your notes and distilling them into a short document. Other people need flashcards to help them memorize the information. Whatever way you learn, here are a few tips that can help you during finals week.

Give Your Brain a Break
After hours of doing math problems or trying to memorize a timeline, your mind needs some time to relax. If you find yourself straining your eyes to read the computer screen or reading passages again and again because you don’t understand them the first time, don’t force yourself to power through. Take a short break. A 10-20 minute workout you found on Pinterest is a good way to wake you up a bit and it also gives your mind a rest. Simply just moving away from your study area can help you relax a bit. Just be smart with what you pick — if you know that once you watch one episode of Parks and Recreation on Netflix, you have to watch five more, that isn’t the best study break for you.

Be Healthy
It is tempting to stay up late and wake up early during finals week while alternating between coffee and Red Bull. Don’t give into this temptation. It’s likely you will get weak or shaky, and that will hurt your study goals rather than helping them. If you plan ahead, you can easily get all your work done and still get a good night of sleep. Try to limit the amount of caffeine you drink as the day goes on. It can be hard enough to sleep with the stress of finals, so you don’t need your late night Starbucks run to keep you up. And while refueling between study sessions with candy bars sounds like a good idea, eating something like an apple with peanut butter will probably make you feel better later in the day.

Set Realistic Goals
Making a plan for how you’ll spend your day is a good thing. Making an unrealistic schedule is not. If you map out each second of your day, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You can’t plan every single bathroom break, or every time you stop to chat with someone while walking to the library. Instead of scheduling your day in chronological order, try writing down all the tasks you want to accomplish and how long you think they’ll take. For example, if you know you have a five hour study window, choose which tasks you think would fill that time, but don’t force yourself to do them in a particular order. That way if you are struck with the sudden urge to study media law, you can do it without feeling guilty that you were supposed to be working on your sociology paper. 

If you follow these tips and try your best, things will be just fine. You will survive this week, just like you’ve survived previous finals weeks. Good luck! Now sign off Facebook, stop tweeting, and get back to studying. 

*Photos from www.sxc.hu

My name is Kathleen McGowan. I am a junior at the University of Iowa double majoring in English and Journalism. My dream is to publish a collection of nonfiction essays or short stories. I enjoy writing, reading, cooking, and keeping up with TV and entertainment news. Feel free to follow me on twitter: @mcgowankj
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