It's 9:00 pm. You haven't eaten since breakfast. Your neck is stiff from looking down at your textbooks all day. The librarian, who now knows you by name, asks if you need anything, because she knows you're going to be there all night. You politely refuse, not because you don't need it, but because you're so focused and stressed out that you can’t even fathom peeling your eyes away from your notes for so much as a drink of water. Not to scare you, but for many college students, this is our reality twice a year. We put a ton of pressure on ourselves to succeed, so much so that we forget the most important keys to success: your health and well-being. Nights of not sleeping or eating and isolation will do nothing but hurt you in the end and do nothing for your grades. The keys to surviving finals week come from three simple things.
1. Create a study schedule
This is by far one of the easiest ways to get through finals week. When you have no schedule in place, it’s easy to lose yourself in your textbook and wind up wasting time or neglecting other responsibilities, like final projects. Final projects are a big percentage of your overall grade and require just as much attention as studying for exams. Make a schedule that coordinates all the moving pieces of exams, projects, and essays for finals week so you can be as efficient as possible. Take one day before finals start to create a practical schedule that includes breaks. No matter how you decide to break up your study time every day, the main point is to find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
2. Form a study group
Studying in groups can be helpful in remaining focused, but it also helps keep your stress levels down. Knowing others are there to help you if there’s something you don’t understand can be a stress reliever in itself. It also ensures you have access to a good laugh or five-minute conversation in your study breaks. Choosing your study group wisely is just as important as having one to begin with. Your best friends may not be the best candidates because you may be easily distracted with them, which is counterproductive. Instead, choose your study group based on members’ skill sets. Try to incorporate people in your classes who are good in areas you struggle with so you can divvy up the work in a way that’s helpful for all members and find help quickly if you need it.
3. Getting some rest
This is arguably the most important tip for surviving finals week. Many of us find ourselves pulling all-nighters and disrupting our sleep schedules because of the pressure to study. Getting little to no sleep during finals week—or even worse, the day before your final—is counterproductive. Also, most finals are at least two hours long, and fighting to stay awake during the time you’re allotted to take the exam isn’t the best way to get good grades. A good night’s rest during finals week won’t just help your grades improve—your overall performance and alertness will improve too.
Finals week is going to be hard no matter one. But if you’re proactive about it, it shouldn’t destroy you. You can get your studying done, feel confident, and conquer your tests with just a little bit of extra preparation and attention. Good luck on your tests, and don’t forget to get some sleep too!
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