Few words in the English language strike more fear into a young undergrad more than the words finals week. Finals week instantly brings to mind many unpleasant mental images such as hours upon hours of intimate time spent with textbooks, endless reviews with ruthless TAs, memorizing vocabulary words scrawled on index cards and long nights spent in the library.
Before you self-combust from stress (or set your biology textbook on fire), you might try out a few of the following suggestions.
1. Schedule out your day
Put aside a set amount of time for each of your finals. Make sure that your goals are practical and achievable. You and I both know that the 12-hour study marathon you’ve planned for this Saturday isn’t going to happen. Budget out your time and study subjects in shorter chunks. Instead of spending four hours straight on calculus, spend an hour on history, then an hour on physics, next an hour on Spanish and finally an hour on calculus. Prioritize and study the most pressing subjects first. Also, make time to put the textbook down for a few minutes and relax. This can help you to study better. Once you have a schedule, be sure to stick to it!
2. Study in a group
If you are struggling in a subject, reach out to your classmates and seek their help. A peer can sometimes explain a concept in a way that is easier to understand than reading it in a textbook. Even if you understand a concept fairly well, explaining it to a classmate can reinforce your comprehension. Choose your group members with care. It’s easy to fall into the trap of going to the library with the guys with the intention of studying for your chemistry test and end up spending three hours on YouTube.
3. Take advantage of your professors
Check out the office hours of your instructor. Many professors are willing and eager to help their students excel. Visiting them personally in their office is a great opportunity to find out how you can improve your grade. Developing good relationships with your professors can also be of great service later on when you start looking for a job. Make sure that all that tuition money (their salary) is put to good use! Don’t be afraid of talking to the TAs either. Even though they are a bit further along than you, they are students themselves and can often remember back to that horrific time when they were taking the class. Capitalize on their knowledge.
4. Stay healthy
Finals week would be a nasty time to catch the flu. I don’t mean to sound like your mother, but she was right when she told you that eating right is important to making the grade. Be sure to take care of yourself by eating three full meals a day and staying physically active. A full meal doesn’t mean a Twinkie and a Diet Coke. Make sure you maintain a balanced diet rich in vitamins. Drink plenty of fluids. Going on a walk between study sessions doesn’t hurt either. Some exercise routines such as yoga not only give you a break from your studies, but can also decrease stress and tension in your body. Finally, make sure you know when to call it quits. Finals week is a stressful period and getting enough sleep at nights can help you perform better throughout the day. Studies have shown that getting more sleep helps you boost your GPA.
Although finals week is tough, putting a few of these suggestions to use will help you keep your stress level at a minimum. Study hard and take care of yourself.