Having finished my third set of college finals, I think I have developed a list of do’s and don’ts for surviving finals (and possibly even thriving!). As a communications major, I tend to have more papers and projects than exams, so as with all college subject posts, remember that these work for me and my school. However, not all schools and people work the same way. So, here are some of the things I’ve learned about surviving finals week:
1. Water > Coffee
While I will always support drinking lots of coffee, for finals it’s really important to be hydrated. I try to drink at least two bottles of water for every 16 oz of coffee I drink. Coffee dehydrates you almost as fast as it caffeinated you. Being dehydrated will cause you to be slow and tired (even with coffee) and you will generally feel and look like a mess.
2. Get Out of Your Room
I know I always think that if I’m studying in my room then I don’t waste time walking to the library and I have food close by. I know that even though my room is more convenient I am way for productive in a place like a classroom or even a dining hall. I personally do not thrive in libraries, so I try to find a place with a little more movement and noise (maybe a nice view), but that is still a place were I am not distracted too much.
3. Sleep is Important!!!
Everyone has either heard of or pulled an all-nighter for finals. THIS NEVER WORKS! Even if your stay up all night reading your textbook, you will retain less than half of the information if you don’t sleep. If you are finishing a paper or presentation, you will overlook small errors that could have a big effect on your grade. 0/10 do not recommend
4. Work Out!
I am horrible at finding time to go to the gym, but exercise actually helps you study an be more productive. It also boosts endorphins, which makes you less grumpy and more energetic. Even if it is a 10 min workout in your room or a 15 minute walk outside, it will improve your productivity.
5. Get Creative
This past finals season, I invested in some colored pencils, some nice pens, a bullet journal and a coloring book. This was a great way to kind of give my brain a break but also entertain me. I try to stay away from Netflix or movies as study breaks because those tend to turn in to hours and hours of not being productive.
6. Do Presentations Before Studying
As I mentioned before, I always have a number of projects or papers. I find it is always best to at least finish a draft within the week it is assigned. If your school is anything like mine you will get rubrics or the requirements for an assignment about two weeks before it’s due (aka finals week). If you get the bulk of that work done early on, you are more free to study without stressing about projects. And if it is an oral presentation, you will have more time to practice (and better public speaking almost always = a better grade).
7. Finish Other Commitments Weeks Before Finals
My biggest mistake this semester was waiting to complete commitments or mandatory events until right before exams. (I did my volunteer hours from 9pm-3am the night before reading day). Think ahead in the semester and complete outside required things well in advance for exams, it saves you from more stress.
8. Get Organized
As I mentioned before, I purchased a bullet journal. I used this to organize myself and make sure I completed everything I needed to. I made to do lists and checklists (and doodled a little). This was a great way to keep organized and make sure nothing slipped through the cracks. It’s also a great way to get into a productive study mode (as I write down what I need to do, I become more motivated to check those boxes off).
9. Make a Study Guide as You Go
Again with thinking ahead, It really helps to make a study guide as you learn about the information. That way you have the information fresh in your mind and generally will forget less. This will also save you from studying unnecessary things and you will be more efficient in studying overall.
10. Read Throughout the Semester
There’s a theme here of thinking about exams early on. (This is because I never do and I always suffer for it). Read your textbook as readings are assigned. You may not need the information for everyday class, but you won’t have to read it all right before the exam. (I read 10 chapters of my economics textbook in 4 days… I do not recommend).
I hope this helps you survive and possibly thrive during your next exam season. Comment with some tips and tricks you have for exams!
Until Next Time,