14 Tips to Stay On Track During Finals: Hacks for Exams

We all know the struggle of not being able to find the motivation to study for finals. It’s hard enough trying to get good grades in school, but it feels like once we start studying and working on our final projects, we end up at a disadvantage because there is so much going on.

The reality is that you will likely feel less motivated as time goes by due to your busy schedule and other commitments. However, if you want it bad enough, here are some tips to help you stay focused during this challenging time! 

  1. Find a quiet place to study: This might not always be an option, but try to find a spot where you can do your best work and won’t feel distracted. You can go to libraries if you have access to them or find a place in your dorm room if you live on campus. Additionally, you can use apps like Focus (iOS) or StayFocusd to limit how much time you spend on social media and other distractions.
  2. Block out time: Figure how much time you need in advance so that you don’t feel rushed! When finals are beginning to come up, it’s important to plan how long each project will take (this goes back to strategy # one), but also how much of an hour-long break time should be allocated per session when studying. This is just another way of staying focused – by feeling like there is plenty of work done for a well-deserved break later on down the road.
  3. Set a Study Schedule: Find out when your exam days are and set aside time each day to study. This way, you won’t have any excuses for not having studied or have forgotten about what was in a particular class. You can set deadlines for each topic and how much time you can spend on each section of the topic. This will help prevent cramming and allow you to focus on how much you have covered with each topic so far.
  4. Start Your Final Projects: If you have to turn in a final project, start it as soon as possible so that you can get the full two weeks of time allotted for completing it. Not only will this give you more time and motivation to complete your projects early, but it also gives you plenty of opportunities throughout those 14 days before finals week starts.
  5. If You Procrastinate Start Early: Once finals come around, most people tend to put off starting their work because they don’t feel like doing anything or are too busy with everything else going on at school or home. However, suppose you plan ahead and prepare by getting started earlier on your assignments during semester break when there is less pressure from academics and social events. In that case, you will have less to do during finals week, which will save you a lot of time.
  6. Solve practice tests: Solving online practice exams is a great way to get comfortable with how the final questions will be in terms of how they are formatted and how much time you need. It also helps set up your mind so that when it’s finals week, you have already done this before, which alleviates some stress from the situation.
  7. Create flashcards: Making study cards for classes can help keep everything together during these few weeks preceding exams. Flashcards break down content into manageable chunks and make them easier to process because reading information on small pieces of paper requires less effort than studying larger blocks of text or full-page articles. As well, making sure that all-important keywords are included makes it easy to remember key points without having to read everything again!
  8. Get organized: Spend some time before starting your finals to figure out how you will study best for them. For example, what are the topics that you need more practice on? Do you prefer studying in small blocks or longer periods of time? Plan out how much time and each type of study session so it’s easier to see how long this process is going to take.
  9. Read and Review: Set aside time every day to read and review your notes. It can be hard to stay focused on how each concept relates to the next if you haven’t been doing this consistently up to this point, but it’s important for understanding how everything connects as well as refreshing old material in case there is a test question that asks about something from earlier lectures or assignments in class.
  10. Take breaks: Your brain needs some fresh air – take at least 20 minutes every couple of hours to get up from your desk and stretch! If it’s really difficult for you to concentrate on studying until late in the evening, maybe allocate this break earlier in the afternoon instead (like around lunch). This will help keep your body healthy as well as refreshed mentally.
  11. Consider Meditation: Studies show meditation helps people focus mentally and physically. With finals coming up soon, now may be the time to give it a try! You can try your own way for meditation, such as sitting in a chair for 15 minutes with the lights off or listening to soothing music. If you’re really struggling to find time, there are apps that have guided meditation sessions and live meditations.
  12. Eat Healthy: Try focusing on eating healthy snacks or meals during finals week instead of too much sugar or caffeine to stay productive! This will also help your body feel less stressed out when it’s under stress – which is important because when we get anxious, our productivity goes down.
  13. Get into good habits: if you’re having trouble concentrating, maybe adjusting how and when you study would help. Try studying earlier in the day or during your break times so that this becomes more routine for you. It may take some time before these methods will stay with you on their own, but over time they’ll provide better results than cramming all night long because of how tired and unfocused your mind is from lack of sleep.
  14. Don’t underestimate how much work needs to be done: If there’s one thing we know about finals, it’s that they require a lot of energy and effort put forth within an extremely short period of time (in comparison to other projects throughout the semester). So ensure not to underestimate how much work needs to be done and how many hours are needed for you to have enough time left over at the end of your day.


Final exams are a stressful time of year for nearly everyone. It’s hard to stay motivated and keep your focus when there are so many other commitments going on in our lives, but with these tips, hopefully, you are able to stay on track and finish strong!

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