Yes, the final exams season has arrived. For many college students, myself included, the struggle is SUPER real. Sometimes, it feels as if there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done and prepared for that last test, paper, or presentation of the course. Truth be told, you probably won't be 100% prepared for whatever cumulative test of knowledge you are required to present. It is easy to stress out about not feeling ready enough, but understanding that everyones in the same boat makes the struggle feel a little less horrible. Here are some of my top five tricks for taking finals season one step at a time.
1. Have a plan
Making a schedule for yourself, down to the minute, is essential. Planning out all your breaks makes for a more productive study day. Physically writing out what you are going to do and when also ensures that you get enough time to take care of yourself better. Don't let your massive to do list clutter your mind — let it out!
2. Make the time for yourself
I cannot stress this enough: taking care of your mind and body during finals is so important. Shower! Workout! Eat healthy foods that are going to fuel your brain and keep you focused! DO NOT drink too much caffeine! Try to get 7 hours at least a night! Even though this seems unrealistic, adhering to trick #1 will lead to more effective time management, and will make getting enough rest a possibility. You will be tired because you are working so hard, but just remember, it's over soon.
3. Know where you study best
Maybe a crowded library isn't the best place to get work done. Maybe a coffee shop is too distracting to stimulate true focus. Maybe you get distracted working with others, and maybe your classmates are the people who are going to help you learn the material the best. Figuring out your personal study habits before it really counts for finals is optimal, but if you haven't figured it out, ask yourself to think back to the last time you were the most productive. Wherever and whenever that was, imitate it!
4. Honestly, you probably should have been reviewing this whole time
This is the one thing I wish I had been doing this semester, and my plan for next semester. It is SO easy to blow off reviewing notes, especially if you are someone who only does something when you are under pressure. Nonetheless, reviewing lecture notes for even 20 minutes at a time every few nights or so during the course of the semester will make finals a much less stressful experience. If you are in my situation this time around, understand that cramming and re-learning is not the most effective way to approach an exam, but it is possible if you focus and anticipate what will be on the exam. Hone in on the stuff you don't understand, even if it is hard. Eventually, you will get it, and chances are if you don't understand it originally, it WILL be on the exam.
5. Know that everything is going to be OK
Yes, it is easy to spiral, worry, cry, etc. Try to overcome these feelings of self-doubt! If you care enough, you will do better than if you did not care at all. There are going to be some things you ace, and some things you really bomb. That's just life — it's a balance of good and bad. Don't dwell on the things you are doing wrong, either. Accept that you are trying your best, and theres nothing else you can do other than put in the effort you have, and make the most of your time to prepare. While I was on the phone with my mom complaining about all the work I had and how nervous I was for finals to start, my mom reminded me that all we can do is give 110%, take our exams, fail or pass, and move on. In the end, one or two failures are not going to define your college experience.