As you’re reading this, we hope you are sitting in a packed library with the smell of cold pizza, espresso, and morning breath taking over your nose while you have tears running down your face, just wishing for this week to be over because finals are kicking your butt. Why do we wish this horrible-ness on you?
So we can change your life, obviously. Okay, maybe just your week.
Consider this your finals week survival guide.
Don’t be “that guy” who starts the study guide the night before your final and then get upset when you barely pass. Cramming doesn’t work unless you have a photographic memory. And if you do… must be nice. Nine times out of ten, cramming for an exam will leave you sleep deprived, overworked, and in a bad mood for your final exam, not to mention most likely leaving you that low C in the grade book as well.
Just like cramming, don’t over-study. Over-studying is when you’ve studied the material for the exam so much that you start overthinking every possibility that could occur and/or be an answer to the question. Usually this has the worst effects with math and other subjects like math where you have to go through many steps to achieve a simple answer. You start plugging things into the calculator thinking you’re doing one thing but you really have just packed your brain full of so much information that it’s not sure which piece of information to use.
Sleep, sleep, sleep:
Whether your final exams are spread across all seven days of finals week or if you have them all in one day, you need to keep up with your sleep. These all-nighters are not going to prepare you for a successful week of A’s. Your brain works best when it’s well rested and energized (naturally). Go to bed at a decent hour to make sure you get your full eight, and then wake up in the morning and study with a nice cup of coffee and some breakfast. Your brain will be able to retain more information if you let it work in the hours where it’s most active and attentive.
What type of learner are you? If you’re a visual learner, try making flash cards, cartoons and even writing and re-writing the study guide multiple times for muscle memory. If you’re a more analytical learner, you can probably read a textbook and retain the information, go through and underline, highlight and circle important information in the sections that your exam is over and re-read the material. If you do better on exams by taking exams, look in your textbook for sample exams or maybe even attend some tutoring where maybe the tutor has made a study guide or some worksheets that you can practice with.
This may sound dumb, but it is statistically proven that if you take an exam in the same kind of clothes that you wear to that specific class, you tend to feel more comfortable and relaxed while taking the exam because it helps you feel like it’s just another day of the regular semester. Also, getting up and allowing yourself extra time to get ready gives you a subconscious feeling of confidence, which can travel to your brain, causing you to feel more prepared for that 8 A.M. exam.
Don’t pick up those sweatpants that you’ve worn all weekend and match them with a wrinkled T-shirt that you had to smell to make sure it was wearable for your final exam outfit. Instead, put on a clean outfit that you wear on a normal class day and get ready to slay every exam.
The second you finish your last final, take yourself out for some good food, a shopping spree, or even just for a really long walk to reflect on all the stress you just conquered. You did it. You survived finals week.
Just remember, a final exam is just another test that you’ve already taken plenty of, so it’s not the end of the world. You’ve done this before and you’re about to do it again. You will survive, you will graduate and your brain will recover.