Thursday, April 17, 2014

Welcome to Finals Week (and how to survive it)

Ah finals week. Did you just mentally cringe reading that? It's ok I may have too. 

Finals are a stressful time and there is a lot riding on those tests. Heck sometimes finals are worth half of your grade. Personally I think it's ridiculous to have finals in the first place, especially when I have been tested all semester long. Whatever, I don't make the rules I just have to follow them.

I thought I'd pass along a few tips that I have learned that have helped make finals less stressful, and I thought I'd throw in some funny images to help make the topic less painful.

1. Time management! Managing your time well is crucial to doing well on finals. Trust me I know most college students are professional procrastinators, but I have learned how to beat the procrastination tendency. I simply don't procrastinate. Make a list of all the subjects you have to study for. Plot out time during the day to study for each of the classes and stick to your schedule. If you don't want to make a schedule then just make a list for every day and cross items off as you go. As you begin to cross off items you will feel accomplished and like you're not wasting your time.

2. Do not go out and party the weekend before finals. I don't party to begin with, but I do know it's tempting to go out with friends because you won't see them all summer. However, it is in your best interest to not go out. It wastes a lot of time that you could have used for studying. 

3. Do take time to relax. I know this semi contradicts the last point, but you cannot study 24/7. Even if passing a class depends on this final don't study all day. Cramming is not going to help you learn the material. Every 30-45 minutes take a break from studying. Get up, take a walk, get a drink of water, do something to give your brain a rest. Studying takes a lot of energy so giving yourself a break will help you focus better and retain the material better.

4. Don't neglect personal hygiene. This seems like a DUH moment, but I have seen some pretty greasy looking people come out of the library during finals week. It's good to spend a lot of time studying, but for the sake of other people take ten minutes out of your day and take a shower. And please brush your teeth. Thank you. From all of us.

5. Do not freak out. Freaking out about how much you have to do won't accomplish anything. Be organized, make a list of what you have to do and do it. When it comes time to take the test don't panic. Know that you studied hard and are prepared.

6. If you didn't learn the material the first time around you probably aren't going to learn it now. I realize how crazy this concept is, but if you weren't responsible enough to show up to class for the semester and learn the material then the only one you screwed is yourself. Cramming is not going to help here.

7. Review old tests and quizzes. Most professors I've had take questions for the final from old quizzes or test they've given. It's an easy way for them to write the exam with minimal effort put in and it helps me because I was already tested on the material and know the answer. 

8. Get enough sleep. Getting 7 to 8 hours sleep a night is so important. Sleeping gives your body a chance to rest and repair itself. Not getting enough sleep weakens your immune system making you more susceptible to getting sick, which no one wants to be sick during finals week. Going to bed early isn't fun, but it will pay off. Enough sleeps keep your attention focused and your mind sharp so you can go forth and conquer finals!

9. Exercise. Working out is a great thing for your brain and body. It gives you a chance to destress. Sitting all day is not good for your body or health. Even taking a twenty minute walk will improve your mental abilities and will help you feel refreshed.

10. Eat healthy. Food is fuel for you body. Don't fuel your body with sugars and loads of carbs during exam week. I know it may be tempting to grab the microwave macaroni for dinner but making a salad or eating fruit or sautéed chicken and veggies is better for you. Plus when you eat healthy you feel better and you definitely want to feel your best during finals. If you're crammed for time make a giant meal the night before finals week (hello crockpot!) and heat up leftovers over the course of the week. I have TONS of healthy, easy, and large serving size meal ideas in my recipe index so check it out.

11. Cramming is a bad idea. It will give you headaches. Don't do it. Period. 

12. Don't wait until the night before to study. You won't learn the material and you won't retain the material. It's just as bad as not studying at all. Study ahead of time and you will thank yourself when you're taking the exam. 

13. Contrary to popular belief your professor is not out to ruin your life. Professors are paid to be there for students so use them! Ask lots of questions about things you don't understand or even think you're unclear about. You pay to sit in their classroom so ask questions. Utilize their office hours. Their office hours are designed for you to go to and ask questions. Most professors like when students come and ask questions or want advice. I can't tell you how many times professors I've had finished telling or explaining to me what I needed and then launched into a story. Honestly I think professors get lonely during their office hours. Put your tuition dollars to work and go to their office hours!

14. Find a good place to study. Not everyone can study in their apartments because they will get distracted. Others can't study at the library because there is too much going on. Study where you will be the most productive. If it's in your bedroom do it there or if it's at the library do it there. Finals are all about you so do what works best for you. 

15. On exam day allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and the get to class. Sometimes the unexpected happens so be prepared. Above all do not freak out. And do not freak out when you are handed the exam. (Hopefully) you studied and studied hard so you will know the material. Take a deep breath and relax. Don't rush yourself through the exam and don't base your progress on how fast everyone else is getting done. Work at your own pace and do your best work. 

16. You can and will survive finals! And you will do a good job too! Finals week is stressful, but at the end of it you're done and you're free. Don't fret about what answer you may have gotten wrong, let it go. When you are done with your last exam step outside, enjoy the sweet sunshine on your face, and breathe in the sweet smell of freedom!!

This will be you after finals.

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