Studying for final exams can be overwhelming. To help ease your stress, we spoke with Laura Hammond, a junior at the University of Northern Colorado, to get a student’s perspective on how to stay calm and make the most out of your study sessions.
So before you load up on coffee and pull an all-nighter, check out these seven tips for how to survive finals week straight from the pros.
1. Know your finals schedule
“I always look up my finals schedule on the school’s website well before finals week. I like to know what my schedule looks like before I am just thrown into it,” says Hammond.
It may sound simple, but taking the time to look up your test schedule will help you get organized and may ease test anxiety.
2. Make a study plan
“I usually start reviewing my notes and course material as soon as possible, usually the week or weekend before and during finals week. My method is to study for the first test I have, or the one that I feel like I need to study for the hardest. I make a priorities list and start there.”
Create a study schedule that allows you to review material at your own pace. Combat fatigue by setting a timer for 30-minute increments. Take a 10-minute break in between study sessions to rest and recharge.
“Take your workload one step at a time and try not to get overwhelmed. Make notecards and quizlets – they are your best friend, trust me.”
3. Clear your space of distractions
“I get distracted easily so I have to put myself into an environment that prevents that from happening. I silence my phone, put it on ‘do not disturb’ mode, or sometimes I even put it away completely so that I won’t become distracted. I find it hard not to go on my phone when it is sitting right next to me.”
In addition to putting your phone away, resist the urge to browse websites not related to your course material. Download your resources ahead of time and disable your internet when you’re ready to begin to help keep you focused.
4. Switch up your study space
“I cannot concentrate on studying when I am in my room. I would so much rather relax and watch Hulu or something. So the first step is to go to a different location, one that I won’t be distracted, like the lobby of my dorm, the library, some cool coffee place, etc.”
Don’t be afraid to venture out and try studying at a new location. Sometimes a change in scenery can help revamp your focus.
5. Eat right
“There’s no magic food that will get you through finals week, but staying hydrated, getting 7-8 hours of sleep, and having a minimum of 3 balanced meals with snacks (when hungry) is crucial,” says Ashlen Dale, Registered Dietitian.
Dale recommends fueling your body with high protein foods, rather than relying on a stimulant like caffeine, to give you the energy you need to perform your best.
The following are considered balanced snacks because there are at least two macronutrients present (carbohydrates, protein, and/or fat). These snacks will provide energy and will keep you feeling fuller longer:
- Greek yogurt with nuts or seeds
- Cheese and crackers
- Rice cake and nut butter
- Hard boiled egg and popcorn
- Apples and peanut butter
- Hummus and veggies (bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots)
- Cottage cheese and fruit
6. Create Study Groups
Studying with others can help deepen your understanding of the content.
“Form study groups with people in your class. It’s easier to understand when multiple brains are thinking about the material. I always learn more from study groups because someone might say something about the material that I have never even thought of.”
7. Don’t forget about self-care
Lastly, make sure you’re taking time for yourself.
“Take lots of breaks. It is not beneficial to keep pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion. It will be harder to focus on the material. Get lots of sleep and DON’T pull all-nighters.”
Finals week in college may require more preparation than you’re used to. Need more study tips? Check out this blog post on College Study Habits for more suggestions.