Finals are not just a week of intense test taking and little sleep. They’re the culmination of many frantic and hard-fought weeks leading up to them; and they’re the cloud of unknowing that hangs above students after the fact. To conquer your finals from every angle, take a look at these student “survival tips” for before, during, and after the big week.
Well what’d you expect? If studying isn’t already on the forefront of your mind, now’s the time to put it there. Start blocking your study schedule and prioritizing classes/study material as a first step. Then, pick where you study best and start getting acquainted with the spot – it’ll be your second home for the next week or so when you’re not taking a study break, eating, or sleeping (and even then…). Check out some helpful tips for studying here.
Though stressing over finals, whether you like it or not, will be the number one thing occupying your mind during exams, the second thing, which you can control, should be mitigating that stress as much as possible. The three best ways of doing this are to plan, stay healthy, and take wise breaks. In planning, keep your days busy from the time you get up until the time you go to bed, including planned breaks that are “busy” or in some way productive. Doing this will prevent periods of sluggishness and keep your mind sharp and less susceptible to stress. For taking care of your mind and body, it is important to maintain a normal and healthy eating schedule. Eating small and often is one way to keep the mind active and less likely to “overload”, as well as eating extra fruits, veggies, and fish, which have Omega 3’s (your brain’s favorite). Finally, your study breaks, which can be tied into everything else. Plan for breaks that both fill in the space between studying to keep you busy, as well as those that keep you healthy and performing well, such as exercise, power naps, small meals, or chores/errands with friends or roommates.
After: learn from your mistakes
More often than not, students finish their last final and immediately go into vacation mode, tossing out notes and letting the semester drift slowly into the past. While tempting, this strategy sets students up to forget much of the information they just spent months learning, and more consequentially they forget the study mistakes and successes that come with a given finals week. Once your tests are over, make a few notes to yourself about what you did well and what you need to work on. Don’t kid yourself, you know it’ll be final’s week again before you know it, and being able to remember how you’ve fared during previous finals will give you an invaluable advantage. Also keep your old notes in a binder and organize computer documents into a “Spring 2013” folder, or something of the like. You don’t want all that effort to go to waste.
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