Across the country, college students are preparing for hell week (the week before finals) and for finals week. These two weeks are two of the four most stressful weeks for every college kid. If you haven't experienced this yet, be prepared to feel every emotion and to consider every option there possibly is just to get out of finals. Different students have different ways of serving these two weeks - we go through hell and back, but we end up surviving and living to tell the tale.
1. Spread out your studying, don't just cram it all in the night before.
Surprise! You have a final in a week and, guess what, you've known about it ever since your professor handed you their syllabus. If you look and plan ahead, you won't have to worry about pulling an all-nighter the day before an exam.
2. Make use of your Keurig, coffeepot, or campus coffee shop.
If you do end up pulling an all-nighter, you're going to need energy, so you're going to need caffeine. Coffee can be expensive, especially if you haven't worked it into your budget. Whenever I have a study session, I make sure that it is in a building that is near the coffee shop on campus or has a vending machine with coffee in it.
3. Limit your all-nighters.
I'm not going to tell you that you aren't going to stay up all night once or twice before finals because you most likely will, especially if you're trying to get in some last minute studying. However, please don't be that person that does it three or four nights in a row. It isn't good for your body and you'll be pushing yourself past your limit, even if you've done it before.
4. Do not forget to eat.
I will personally preach to you to eat healthy during these times. It seems silly but your body needs the brain food more than the junk food during this time. It's OK to order the pizza once or twice a week, but make sure that you are also balancing it out with other healthy options - your body will thank you for it later. Also, try to keep your eating schedule the same as well.
5. Make use of online tools.
Believe it or not, but your computer can also find sites other than Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest that can actually help you study. I personally use Quizlet for flashcards, which really help with foreign language classes. Another hack is to google "site:edu [subject] exam." With this it will bring up different college exams and practice problems that can help you study.
6. Don't be afraid to take breaks.
If you've been studying for a long period of time, don't be afraid to take a break - your brain deserves one. It's OK to watch one episode of Netflix to ease your mind off things, it won't kill you - just don't let that one episode turn into a marathon and watch an entire season. Apart from Netflix, make sure that you take breaks to eat and drink plenty of water. If you have time, take a moment or two to stretch and even go outside - your body will need the fresh air from being cooped up inside all day.
7. Form study groups with people who actually study.
This is something that everyone is going to stress because you're actually going to need to study. At the beginning of the semester, or during mid-terms, make a study group of people who will actually study with you. Get your stuff done sooner so you can study for other classes as well. If you do form a study group, make sure to reserve a room up to a week in advance, if you can, so that way you aren't going on a massive search to find a study room. Surround yourself with people who are going to stay on task so that way you stay on task.
8. Know your learning style.
Everyone has their own way of learning - some learn better in groups, while some learn better by just rereading through their textbook and notes. Don't try to force yourself to study in a way that isn't your way of learning because it won't do much for you. If flash cards work best for you, make flashcards or use Quizlet. If groups work best for you, make a group and talk out all the information.
9. Exercise and keep up your usual routine.
Even if you feel like you don't have the time, you can easily make the time. Hit the gym and take your flash cards or textbook with you. Last hell week and finals week, I found that the gym was the busiest because people were getting their endorphins pumping since it can make a world of a different on your stress levels. Do not drastically rearrange your life just because of finals. Get up at the same time, head to bed at the same time, eat at the same time, shower at the same time - your body is used to your routine, don't change it.
10. Write out your schedule for the last month of school.
At the beginning of the mouth (or middle), make a calendar that you can arrange when every assignment is due and when your finals are - it will feel great when you get to cross off something that you've been work on forever. This will also help you stay organized.
11. Get rid of all possible distractions.
Turn off your phone and tv, you can have music playing, but make sure you have all screens off (except for your computer if you're actually using it productively). See everything as a distraction and don't get caught up in the never-ending scrolling because before you know it, it's midnight and you've only studied for all of 10 minutes. Some people really like to use earplugs - I would recommend this for exams and studying in public spaces because even the quietest noise can be distracting.
12. It's OK to cry about it, but don't stress out to the point of death.
We all do it - we all cry and that's OK. We all know that hell week and finals week are tough, but don't let that stress make you spontaneously combust. If you do cry, try not to get it on any papers that you have to hand into your professor - they may count off for tear streaks.
Overall, hell week and finals week is a rough time in all of our lives, but it is possible to live through it. Keep your life and sh*t together (somewhat) and you'll be just fine. I have full confidence that y'all will make it through finals and pass with flying colors. Happy hell week! And happy (almost) finals week! (PS, remember, soon they will be a thing of the past!