Whether you're in high school, college, graduate school, or beyond, chances are you'll have to take finals within a few weeks to a month. It's easy to get stressed and overwhelmed, but hopefully following these tips will make it easier!
1. DO take breaks!
Absorbing information for hours at a time doesn't help anyone. Take short periodic breaks between subjects, chapters, etc. to do something, like read an enjoyable book, play a couple of rounds of a game, or take a walk.
2. DON'T ignore your responsibilities!
However, don't take TOO many breaks! Studying for five minutes and breaking for 60 minutes probably won't help you. Worried about losing track of time? Set an alarm or a reminder.
3. DO ask for help!
There is no shame in seeking out a tutor, a professor, a TA, etc. You're paying them to educate you, after all! At the very least, try to find a study buddy or two in class. Even if you're better at working alone, it's always nice to have someone just in case.
4. DON'T let other sources do your work for you!
That being said, make sure you're still learning! It's shockingly easy to sit through a tutoring session or an office hours meeting thinking, "Yeah, yeah, I got it," when you're really just not doing enough work. Remember what your helper said, and then go home and practice it yourself!
5. DO keep your current grade in mind!
Use it as a gauge to find out what your goal is on your final. If you're failing or in danger of failing, you obviously need to work hard to get an A. On the other hand, if you've had excellent grades in a certain class so far, it's probably safe to (slightly) neglect it in favor for your weaker spots.
6. DON'T get too hung up on the past!
That being said, moderation is key. If you think, "Well, I have an A+ in this class right now, so I can slack on the final," that won't do any good! Additionally, if you're already viewing yourself as doomed to failure due to previous mistakes, you may want to try to pull yourself out of that rut.
Even if there's genuinely no hope of you passing, you should at least pay attention now, so you have a bit of a hard start for when you retake the class next semester.
7. DO try to make studying interesting!
Quizlet flashcards, Kahoot, etc. are all fun ways to learn things like vocabulary or equations. You don't have to have your head in the textbook at all times!
8. DON'T try new studying methods that you haven't done before!
That being said, it's best to stick with your tried-and-true study methods for now. If there's a new technique you want to try, you'll have plenty of time next semester. Don't risk anything right now.
9. DO study bit by bit!
Calculate how much time you have until finals and how much work you'll have to do until then. Try to divide it up as evenly as possible.
10. DON'T cram!
If you "learn" it all the night before, you will not get the grade that you wanted. That's not to say you shouldn't study at all right before the test (you should, especially in math), but you should never study it all the morning of.
11. DO practice self-care!
Remember to eat proper meals, shower, stay hydrated, etc. Even doing those simple things can greatly reduce your stress.
12. DON'T freak!
I know how easy it is to get nervous, but remind yourself that it's still the beginning of your life. You have time to recover from any mistakes you happen to make. Going in with a negative attitude can and will take its toll on your performance.
13. DO remember the things you always get stuck on!
Do you find yourself confusing meiosis and mitosis? Do you forget to add the + C at the end of your integrals? Is it a struggle for you to remember the symbolism of Grendel's arm? Try to find a way to make it easier for you.
I remembered the unit circle through a rap, the periodic table through an ASAPScience YouTube video, and early American History through "Hamilton", the musical. Find a method that works for you, no matter what it may be.
14. DON'T make stupid mistakes!
Always double-check everything if you have time. Don't lose points because you forgot a negative sign in calculus or because you mixed up the characters of George and Lennie in English Comp.
Most importantly, DON'T worry and DO your best! Finals are just one week of your life, and you can make it through. Even if it doesn't turn out the way you want it to, it's not the end of the world. Breathe, you've got this!