Happy May 1! For most college students, it’s finals week! A.K.A. the most stressful week of the semester. Fortunately, I have my finals all spread out so I can focus on one per day. Also, most of my finals are not cumulative, so I’m not super stressed honestly. However, this is not my first go-round of finals, and as such, I’ve developed some tips on how to get the best of your finals week without letting finals week get the best of you.
- Schedule– Pay attention to when your finals open and close. For me this semester, I have two online finals and two in-class finals. So rather than do multiple finals in one day, I spaced them out so I only take one per day. This helps me to concentrate on one subject (see next point) and not get overwhelmed.
- Prioritize– If you have an exam late in the week stressing you out, focus on your other exams first. So often, I’ve seen people concentrate on one big final and bomb others because they forgot to study or overlooked it.
- Take it day by day– This goes along with the first two. Worry about finals on Monday before you worry about finals on Friday. Allow yourself to focus on one project for a day without overloading yourself.
- Relax– This is probably the most important tip I can offer. If you completely stress yourself out, you won’t sleep right, you won’t eat right, and your body physically reacts to stress. So seriously, take some time to relax. Your body and mind WILL thank you, but also…
- Work hard– Don’t slack off until the last minute. Budget your time, do your work, and be proud of what you accomplish. I know it can be easy to procrastinate, but take it from me, it’s not something you’ll look back on and enjoy. I procrastinate too, and it usually leads to regret. On that note…
- Get motivated– I have two ways I get motivated to study and do work. The first is actually watching an action movie (like superheroes or James Bond type thing). It helps to get your adrenaline flowing and usually has a resolved ending, so it’s not sad. Another thing I do when I’m trying to study is listen to movie scores. One of my favorite stations on my Pandora is Hans Zimmer. He’s done movie scores for things like Sherlock Holmes (with RDJ), Inception, and Dunkirk (♥!). At this point, based on my likes, I get a lot of John Williams as well, so things like Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones. There aren’t usually lyrics so it really helps to focus on my work with some background noise (I cannot work in silence).
- Make a list– This really helps me know what all I have to do. I know I mention this often, but I have a weekly list that I use to help me stay organized. I like to be able to accomplish things because then it helps me feel productive and manage my stress.
- Stick to your schedule– If you have a consistent exercise schedule or are on a diet, finals week is not the time to drop everything else. I think it helps focus your mind as well, and might give a placebo effect of “it’s just another week. I can handle this”. So definitely continue to exercise and eat well, like you’ve been doing. I know some people eat when they are stressed, and eat excessively. So rather than indulge on candy or chips or other unhealthy snacks, go for dark chocolate-covered fruit, vegetables, or other things to satisfy your cravings. On the other hand, if you are like me and do not eat when you are stressed, remind yourself to eat, even if you have to force yourself. Obviously, I want you to be healthy about your eating habits, but your body needs nutrition and needs to be satiated to give you energy so you can continue working and focus. The Snickers commercials often say “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Yeah, well you’re not you when you’ve starved yourself either. So stick to your eating, working, and living regimen.
- Have fun– Please please PLEASE make time to have fun. Find time to unwind with your favorite hobby. For me, that could be watching movies or shows, reading, writing, or painting. I would say even scrolling through social media counts. Do what you enjoy.
- Sleep– Sleep is literally so important. If you don’t sleep, you won’t feel like yourself for your finals. All-nighters are NEVER good for you, and they are even worse during finals week. It’s not worth it honestly.
- Stay hydrated and drink coffee– I group these two together because if I were to only be like “Drink water and nothing else”, some people would be like “What about coffee?” Just because I don’t drink it myself doesn’t mean I don’t understand how important it is in people’s lives. Ideally, I’d love to tell you to drink only water, but I know I can’t do that. So instead, work hard to stay hydrated. Drink MAINLY water, but have your coffee too. Just don’t go overboard.
- Stay off your phone while studying– I’m the kind of person where if I get on my phone, ten minutes later, I’ve lost my whole train of thought and all motivation. So to help, I downloaded an app called Forest. You set a time limit, and it plants virtual trees for you while you’re off your phone. It’s probably a placebo effect, but I find myself working faster, like “I want to be at point x by the time the tree is grown.” It’s also helped me be more productive. Even if I get distracted from my work, I don’t want to kill the tree I’m growing by being on my phone. So I’ve done things like straighten up my room and organize things. The only issue I have with this is that I think of something important that I need to do (like text someone not just to make conversation), and I know I can’t do it. So what I do is add it to my to-do list just as a reminder and do it once the timer is off. Definitely would recommend Forest to anyone though, or any other apps or sites that help you stay focused by not letting you become distracted.
- Make sure you study– This one may seem obvious, but I think it needs to be on this list nonetheless. It is important to study for tests, ESPECIALLY finals. Studying is vital to finals week, so make sure you put time and effort in in a way that you will be proud of your final result. That could mean going to a study session, getting together with people in class, or just studying on your own. Whichever works for you, I definitely encourage you to take time and get it done.
- Take a walk– I know for me, after sitting and studying for a while, my body gets tired. It’s good to get up, move around, and take a break. You don’t have to go far. Honestly, if you wanted to, you could just go to the bathroom. Just get the blood flowing through your body again so you can continue working.
- Understand the significance and insignificance of finals– Yes, finals ARE important. I don’t think anyone can disagree with me on that. However, finals are not the only important thing in your life. You are more than a grade, a GPA, a weight, whatever. You are not a number. So yes, finals are important, but they aren’t always the most important. There’s more to life than just a test.
Hope these help! So good luck, do your best, and finish strong!
Let me know if you have any thoughts or comments!