‘Tis the season… The syllabi are nearing their end, the teachers are dreading the grading, the library is filling up with students who have too little time to finish the paper they should’ve started weeks ago and cursing their notes for being too sparse. Finals week is stressful, seems to come too soon and last too long. Here are some tips to make it a little less painful:
1. Get organized
Schools and teachers have a weird way of piling the hardest, longest assignments together. So, if your school is anything like mine, you’ve got about 4.5 essays, 3 presentations, and 2 exams coming up in the next few weeks. Not to mention the fact that classes are *technically* not over yet, so you have to keep up with your readings and normal schoolwork, as well as any additional responsibilities you might have nothing to do with school responsibilities.
Do yourself a favour and create a calendar. Schedule some time to work on each of your assignments (and actually work on them!). An hour a week per assignment for a month will not feel like that much and you will be done with it sooner than you realise. This will also allow you to prioritise and will prevent you from missing any deadlines and (hopefully) will have you early in bed the week your assignments are due, instead of agonising in the library until late at night.
Get this template here.
2. Take care of yourself
I know, I know. When finals are looming and the work seems to just not get done, it’s hard to think about pitiful human necessities like eating, sleeping, or taking a break. But you really should. Think about it, how are you going to get things done well if you’re running on borrowed energy?
So, eat; have a list of a few easy recipes that you can prepare quickly and will keep you fed and happy. Sleep at least 6-7 hours each night, set alarms and limits to your studying and working and turn off the computer when you say you will. Stay active. Go for a walk, do some yoga, hit the gym… Now, I’m not staying, “Pick up a new workout routine while you’re drowning in school work.” But avoid becoming a library potato, even just a 20 minute walk each day can leave you feeling energised and give you a break from academic fatigue. And finally, take a break. Go out with friends, watch that episode that just came out, read a book, drink some tea… It is okay, your life doesn’t begin and end with school.
3. Figure out how you study best
It may be flash cards, it may be reading your class notes over, it might be fitting a summary of all your notes into one, two-sided A4 paper. Create a study group. Try to find the topics in pop culture, see if they’re right. It might actually be not studying, some people actually do better not studying and trusting that they’ve learned what they should’ve have through the semester.
Most importantly do not try to cram everything into your brain the night or day before. It won’t work and you will actually remember less if you try to do this.
Overall, stay positive. It may feel like it at the time, but exams are not the end of the world. If you paid attention during class, handed in the rest of your work, and participated during the semester you are probably going to do a lot better than your stress is leading you to believe.