Survival guide: Finals edition

Quick tips and tricks to keep you going as finals close in

Sahana Sri, Guest Writer

With Thanksgiving in the past and the end of the semester fast approaching, only one thing stands between us and a relaxing winter break: finals. Just the thought of it makes me shiver. Discarded coffee mugs, late-nights, and cruel—but accurate—finals memes fill the little study corner for a few treacherous weeks at the end of December. But the stress is worth it when you finally make it to a relaxing winter break, right?

Not necessarily. Although stressing your way through finals seems like the way to go, it can be detrimental to your physical and mental health and even affects the quality of your exams and projects. Here’s a few survival strategies to ensure that you bring your best foot forward this finals season. 

  1. Start studying early

Studying—it’s so tedious! However, procrastinating your review time won’t change the date of your test. Don’t study the night before or even the week before. Start studying as early as possible. Give yourself time to review the materials you received this semester and to sort it into what you know and don’t know. The more time you give yourself to study more difficult topics, the better chances you have of acing them on your tests.

      2. Make a game plan

Know what you struggle with and what your forte is. Make a physical checklist of what you need to go through, and cross items off when you finish them. The University of British Columbia offers a 7-step finals’ study plan, starting with your goals and reminding you of the consequences of not following through. With a game plan by your side, finals week will be less hectic and you’ll be confident that you’re prepared.

      3. Sweet dreams: sleep well!

We’ve all had those night-before information crunch sessions that are oh-so tedious to get through. However, staying up late to study the night before your test actually does more harm than good. If you don’t get enough sleep (at least 8-10 hours for teenagers), your brain won’t be able to function properly for the exam the next day. A 2018 study done by Baylor University showed that even by only getting the minimum recommended amount of sleep, students’ finals grades increased by a 4-point average. By getting a sufficient amount of sleep, you optimize your brain’s capacity to remember what you learned to ace that test or project.

      4. Stay healthy and skip that extra coffee

Skipping coffee may seem like an atrocious idea, especially during finals, but it’s important to stay healthy when your brain needs to be in tip-top condition. Even if you don’t have time to exercise, making healthy food choices can help you feel more energized and ready to take down finals week. Keep away from coffee (it causes anxiety and headaches, according to WebMD) and don’t pick up that bag of chips. Instead, try some of these nine healthy foods that power your brain.

      5. Have a break!

Taking breaks is necessary; you might think that you’re losing time to study, but you’re not. In fact, you’re refreshing your brain and giving yourself a moment to breathe. Relax for a few minutes by jamming out to your favorite song, watching an episode of your favorite TV show or playing with a pet. Even taking a two minute break to relax your muscles can leave you feeling refreshed. 

      6. Don’t isolate yourself

Everyone knows how stressful these December weeks are, and we all want to help each other get through it. Reach out to your friends, even if it’s just to talk and take a break together. You can also utilize student-based school programs like Peer Counseling or Art Therapy. Studying with people can also add to your finals experience; helping each other study can keep you accountable and on task, but still add some fun to the monotonous notes packets you have to review. Don’t worry; you’re not alone this finals season.

      7. Treat yourself

No, this doesn’t mean a spa day in the middle of finals week. Reward yourself for getting through one more test, one last packet of notes, that little proof in math you didn’t understand. Every time you knock another task off your checklist, congratulate yourself for your wins, whether that means cashing in on a little bit of chocolate or taking a quick power nap. Each part of your day is a task to complete and you are rising to the challenge, so celebrate a little!

So there you have it, a survival guide to finals season. As we hit the big hill of finals week, just remember: your self-worth isn’t determined by how well you do on your finals. You are going to be successful regardless of one grade on a test. Final season is stressful, but don’t put more pressure on yourself. Follow these tips and who knows, maybe finals season might just be a little more bearable.