For most college students, the words “finals week” induces a cold sweat, nausea, and even, every now and then, sudden loss of control of bodily functions. The finals I am taking this semester are some of the last I will ever take as an undergrad, so I figured I'd share some advice on how to survive your exams this winter.
- Don't forget to stay calm. Whenever finals start getting mentioned, everyone stresses out, and it's the stress that will end up throwing you all out of whack. You want to study but you can't focus because, “oh dear god, there are like five other tests you need to study for and a project due in a few days and a paper,” etc, etc, etc. We've all been there, but by letting the sheer mass of assignments overtake you, you won't be able to give each assignment the attention it deserves. Trust me, I know this from experience
- Don't neglect yourself! You may think you need to stay up all night to study because your chem exam might literally be the death of you if you don't, but, once again, trust me. You'll retain MUCH more information with a full night's sleep under your belt than 32 straight hours spent trying not to cry while hunched over your textbook and stack of flash cards. Get rest. Eat well and be healthy with your food. Don't rely on caffeine to save your life. If you do have to stay up super late to complete an assignment, try to take 20 minute naps every once and a while just to clear all the fatigue out of your head. Just be sure to wake up from those naps, or you could dig yourself even deeper into a hole.
- Take some me time. My best friend had to take the LSATs recently, and she spent the months up to the testing date preparing, stressing, not sleeping, and overall feeling miserable because of one test. Granted, her future rides on the grades she receives from the LSATs, so I can see why she'd be willing to go to such lengths to study, but when the body is in high gear all the time, it tends to crash. When dealing with high levels of mental stress, the brain stops performing well. The body wasn't meant to constantly be on edge, so make sure to take time to relax. Despite what you might think, you do have twenty- thirty minutes a day to let yourself relax and do something that makes you feel good. Last year, when I had to deal with finals, I went to the gym because getting a runner's high was great for my mental state. While this tip seems similar to Don't forget to stay calm, but there is a reason for the distinction. Being calm means being mindful of what you are doing and what does/does not matter in the moment. Taking me time, on the other hand, is doing something that makes you happy because, in the end, an awesome pick-me-up is what every college student needs before, during, and after his/her finals.