Finals Week Preparation

It’s almost that time of year again. Sweatpants, messy hair, and sleep-deprived eyes flood campuses. Apart from midterm week, finals week is one of the most stressful weeks for a college student. There are ways that can make finals week a breeze using these methods to help get yourself prepared and confident about your finals.

1. Create Your Own Study Guide

One way to maximize your study time is to create your own study guide. Often professors don’t provide study guides so going through and pulling out the main points from every chapter is a great way to test yourself and see what you know and what you might need to go back over.

2. Ask Questions for Clarification ASAP

It’s never a bad idea to ask questions either from your professor or a fellow student who understands the topic well. Getting your questions asked as soon as possible will allow the studying process to go a lot smoother and easier.

3. Attend Study/Review Sessions

By attending study or review sessions with your professor or fellow classmates can be extremely helpful not only if you have any questions but it could make studying feel less stressful. Studying with other students can help reduce anxiety knowing you’re not alone and you could have common questions about topics that can be answered together.

4. Organize Notes

For optimal studying, organizing your notes can allow you to easily go through each chapter. Putting notes in a way that makes sense to you whether you put them in order, color code them, put them in groups of what you know and don’t know. Whatever way works for you, organize your notes and finals week will be a breeze.

5. Take Breaks

Don’t forget that it’s important to take breaks from studying. Get up and get your body moving so you can actively engage your brain again. Stretching is a great way to stretch those muscles that have been inactive especially if you’re slouched over a desk for hours at a time. Even taking power naps or grabbing a quick bite to eat can be helpful. Remember, your brain can only focus for about 45 minutes at a time. Breaks are absolutely necessary, just don’t make them excessively long.

6. Get Plenty of Sleep

Although school is important, so is taking care of yourself. You always come first so make sure to take the time to get enough sleep at night. Getting at least 8 hours will help recharge your brain and fully allow your brain to actually remember and retain more of what you’re learning and studying.

7. Set Aside Special Time for Studying

Avoid overwhelming yourself by trying to study the entire day. By setting aside specific times during the day will make studying easier. As the old saying goes, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Keeping studying sessions a few hours so you don’t fry your brains and overwork yourself.

8. Quiz Yourself

Quizzing yourself is a great way to easily see what you know and what you need to review. Quizzing yourself or allowing a friend to quiz you can help reduce anxiety come the final so you have an idea what to expect during the time limit. It allows you to train your brain to act quickly to prepare you for the final.

9. Color Code Notes & Study Guides

You’re more apt to remember notes and study guides better if they are color coded. Just by adding colors to notes or things to remember while studying can help you during your finals if let’s say something extremely important to remember was color coded in red. This is also a great study strategy and way to organize.

10. Make It Fun

Just because finals are stressful doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. College doesn’t last forever so it’s important to make the most of it. Don’t take them Too seriously and work yourself to death. Laughing releases endorphins that make you feel good and you’re more likely to remember something when you’re happy than over-stressed and cranky. Life is too short, might as well have some fun. 

11. Give Yourself Incentives

One way to motivate yourself while studying is setting goals and when you reach those goals you can give yourself an incentive. One of my favorite ways is to buy a small bag of my favorite candy, which happens to be gummy worms, and when I reach a goal point, I allow myself to eat one. Little incentives can be breaks, snacks, naps, or other ways.

12. Choose a Quiet and Distraction-Free Study Location

Everyone knows how much it can stress you out even more if you’re constantly being distracted by loud people or noises. Even being crowded by people can make studying quite the chore. Find a spot that is free of people constantly walking by and noises. Study time should be focused and the fewer distractions means more time being able to retain the material.

13. Avoid All-Nighters

Avoid staying up all night studying or working on papers or projects. Your brain and memory are compromised. Get a good night sleep and take care of your brain and body. Overworking yourself is never a good idea and can lead to problems down the road. Research shows that if you get a good night sleep that’s around 8 hours, you’re actually able to retain more. While you sleep, your brain is constantly going through everything you learned and filing it away for future use. So going to bed a little earlier could actually help you with those pesky finals.

14. Avoid Excessive Energy Drinks

It’s important to maintain good health which includes eating well and getting enough sleep but avoid the temptation to overdo the energy drinks. These can be helpful for a little extra boost while studying which can get exhausting but they are also packed full of sugar and other ingredients aren’t so good either. Too much caffeine is never good for your body and if you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and drinking enough water, your body shouldn’t be begging for caffeine. Focus on yourself before relying on supplemental energy.

15. Maintain Your Health

Finals week is obviously stressful. Having the extra stress on your body is never good but it’s unavoidable. One way to make finals week a breeze is to take care of yourself. Eat healthy, brain supportive foods, drink plenty of water, and get 8 hours of sleep. Don’t be afraid to take power naps to keep your brain engaged. Nobody wants to show up to a final sick or over-exhausted. In order to perform the best you can, you have to actively make sure you are taking care of your body. Don’t forget to perform some sort of high-intensity cardio for at least 20-30 minutes. I recommend gathering a few friends who need a study break and playing a game outside if applicable. Games like soccer, basketball, softball, kickball are all some great ideas to build comradery and keep your body healthy.

16. Study with a Partner

Don’t be afraid to ask friends to come study with you as long as you both are studying diligently and aren’t distracting each other, studying with friends can be beneficial to ask questions and even keep yourself motivated. If you both are studying for the same class, compare notes and study guides to enhance your study time together. It’s a win-win for everyone.

17. Forget About Cramming

While last minute studying will still be more helpful than not studying at all, cramming won’t do a whole lot for you other than stress you out and potentially lead to you overthinking during the final. Do yourself a favor and plan study sessions or study times ahead and utilize them. Cramming will only add more stress that your body doesn’t need during an already stressful time. Long story short: Don’t do it. Plan ahead.

18. Stay Positive

Unfortunately, finals week is just a hectic and stressful week. That’s the way it is but it’s important to remember to stay positive. Positive and empowered thinking helps your mind and can be a motivator. Just remember that your grades do not necessarily define you as a person. If you are trying your absolute best and constantly doing everything you can to do well, then that’s all anyone can ask for. Give it your best shot and don’t be afraid to reward yourself after a final. You just accomplished a task that not many can do. You will do great on all of your finals. Believe in yourselves. Once it's over, be sure to treat yourself.

For most of us, college doesn’t last that long. There will be stressful times including finals week but just remember that it’s all temporary. Being as prepared as possible will make it go a lot easier. Take care of yourselves, body, and mind. Good luck to all on their finals.