How to Survive Finals Season

Photo courtesy of thepretenda

Written by Megan Soyars

Thanksgiving has passed, and Christmas is not yet here, but in between these two holidays lies that behemothic hurdle known as FINALS. Invented by sadistic school board members, finals is a period spanning roughly one week, in which everything in all your classes is due. Four papers, three exams, and three presentations (including a presentation on a paper).  You wonder how you will live through it all.

Fortunately, you have these handy tips to guide you!

  • Don’t cram the night before
    • My friend told me a “horror story” that resulted from a night of cramming. My friend pulled an all-nighter to study for an Astronomy exam.  Several cans of red bull helped him get through the night. But when he showed up to take the exam the next morning, he zonked out at his desk and slept through the whole thing! Naturally, he failed the exam and nearly ended up failing the class as well. Let this be a warning to all you procrastinators. Studies like this one have also shown that the brain has difficulty processing a lot of information in a short period of time (especially since cramming precipitates fatigue and stress). If you must cram, do it two nights before the exam. This gives you time to ingest all the information you memorized and prevents you from being sleep-deprived on test day.  You can also do a quick review the night before to further cement the material in your brain.   
  • Get your papers out of the way  
    • I was an English and Communications major in college, so I was always inundated with papers during finals week. I quickly learned to write my papers first, since they don’t require any memorization. This left me free to study for finals a couple days before test day. This way, everything I studied would remain fresh in my mind, and I wouldn’t waste time  typing out a paper on imagery in Keat’s poetry  when I really needed to be boning up on my Spanish vocab for the exam next morning.  Another plus of this method is that you can go back and proofread the paper a day or so after you’ve written it. By looking at the text with fresh eyes, you’ll be able to catch errors you missed before. A final plus–if you turn the paper in early, you may earn kudos with your professor!
  • Switch up locations
    • I know this sounds like weird advice, but it prevented me from burning out during 12-hour study blocks. I would study in different locations throughout campus, usually spending only a couple hours in one place. For example, I’d start off studying in the library that morning, and when I felt myself getting antsy, I’d move to the couches in the art building.  I would also switch up what subject I was studying. If I spent an hour studying Spanish in the library, then I’d spend an hour writing my psych paper in my dorm room. A little variety goes a long way to keep you from feeling bored (and also prevents your butt from getting sore!).
  • To study group or not to study group
    • Study groups have both their pluses and their minuses. I found that I enjoyed study groups held with my friends, but I got a lot less work done. Discussion on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus dissolved into conversation about that cute guy who played Bassianus in the film version of the play. Study groups held with random people in my class were a lot more boring, but I also learned a good deal. Because we concentrated on the study matter, we were able to benefit from each other’s knowledge. Maybe that quiet guy who sat across from me in class was secretly a Shakespeare scholar. So it really depends. In general, I would only recommend becoming part of a study group if you’re lost on the material, and know there are fellow group members have notes you don’t. And don’t study with friends unless you make a determined effort to stay on topic!   

Helpful Articles

For more hints, or just some ways to de-stress during finals season, check out these websites!

    • College candy provides a humorous article on some unorthodox ways to de-stress during finals. Check it out here! Pet a cuddly puppy, host a dance party in the library, and more! And don’t forget to check out this article for the top ten best study distractions. YouTube, anyone?   
    • Aside from offering discounts, also provides helpful articles. Check out their Exam success tips here.  


-Megan, Trinity University

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