How to Study for Finals

Student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dec   2015



Finals are fast approaching and many of us are wondering—how did this semester fly by so quickly? Finals are often a time of cramming, sleep deprivation, and poor eating. But it doesn’t have to be like that. If planned out right, finals can be transformed into a peaceful and calm experience. Okay, maybe not. But, it doesn’t have to be as stressful!

First things first: prioritize

You know which classes you’re struggling in and which ones you’re doing well in. Write out all the times you have finals and pay attention to which ones come first and if you have multiple exams in one day. Then write out a list of things you have to do in each class. Some classes may require a final paper or presentation instead of a final exam. See which classes will take the most time and use that information to create a study schedule for yourself.

Get some study buddies! 

Find other people in the same class as yourself and remember that multiple brains are better than one. You might have a friend who is better in a specific topic while you find you are better at something than someone else. Or you might just find it helpful to be surrounded by other people who are studying as well. If you study better alone, though, study alone! Some people prefer company while they study, while others need to be alone to concentrate. Know yourself!

Buy some healthy snacks

Yes, I know it is super tempting to live off coffee and ramen for a couple weeks, but you’ll find yourself crashing quicker on those late nights. Trade the chocolate bars for trail mix and a banana and you’ll feel yourself much more focused and sharper. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water! You should never forego your health for grades.

Sleep is important, people

It becomes very easy to sacrifice sleep for studying. But lack of sleep is only going to hinder you during your actual test. It doesn’t make sense to stay up all night studying just to fall asleep during the exam. Sleep will also help you retain more information.

Find a good study place

If you know you have a tendency to fall asleep studying in your bed, don’t study there! A desk with a table and chair is normally the best way to stay focused. Most college libraries have desks that are shaped like little cubicles so you can form your own bubble of “do not disturb.” Don’t dress too comfortably either, because that will probably lead to a surprise mid-study nap.

Know yourself and how you study best

If you study best hanging upside down from an exercise bar, then by all means study that way. My only reminder is not to get caught up in the depression plague that seems to hang over college campuses during finals week. Eat healthy, get lots of sleep, and be your best self. You is kind, you is smart, you is important.

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About Tia Nanjappan

Tia Nanjappan is a journalism major currently attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Tar Heels!). She likes to be in the know about the world and thus is planning on pursuing a career in news reporting. When she is not reading up on current events, Tia can be found drinking coffee, trying to learn a new language, or shopping online.