I love being in school, but I do not love Finals Week. Thankfully I only have one in-class exam this semester, but I do have a few projects left to complete this week. It is crazy to believe that this semester is almost over, but I am excited to complete these courses and move on to new classes and starting my clinical rotations.
Here are a few tips I have gathered over the years to successfully survive Finals Week!
- Schedule your studying.
I have a planner and an Outlook calendar constantly open on my computer, and I find it very helpful to see my week in front of me so I can plan my time. I often believe that I have more time available than I actually do, so this has helped me stop pushing things to the end of the week and really has helped me to stop procrastinating overall.
- Plan your meals.
This seems to be a goal of all people (not just those of us during Finals Week), but this is one of the most important things I have discovered helps during more hectic weeks/months. Similarly, investing in a Crockpot makes life so much easier. Not only do you not have to spend time in front of a stove, but you can often cook in bulk (making more meals available throughout the week), and it doesn’t take much time or thought to complete.
- Buy healthy/portable snacks!
My current favorites are Trader Joe’s dried mandarin oranges (so yummy!) and pretzel thins with hummus. I mention to make sure that they are portable because nothing is worse than something potentially spilling in your backpack on the way to the library, or worse, on the way to your test! While I am learning to like coffee, I also love having Diet Coke or caffeinated Crystal Light packets to mix with my water to help me stay awake.
- Take a break.
Going back to scheduling, make sure you schedule a few fun/relaxing breaks throughout your study time. This doesn’t have to be an hour long excursion, but rather could be a 10 minute Spotify session or watching a quick 30 minute show on Netflix (which then is really more like 23 minutes, so win-win!). It is also important to incorporate some kind of movement/exercise in your day, whether it be in the morning to start your day or in the middle of studying as a stress reliever.
- Do not alienate yourself!
Something that I have found to be important is to incorporate others into (at least) parts of your studying. During hectic weeks, it is important to allow yourself to have human interaction in the midst of all of the stress. You may need a drink from Starbucks, and chances are, a classmate might as well, so schedule a time to meet up for a few minutes while picking up your coffee! If you plan on studying at the library, ask around to see if anyone else will be there and schedule a study room. You can study separately, but you will have someone there to potentially ask questions and you could take your breaks together. During gym or exercise breaks, see if someone else is needing a break to keep from going stir-crazy and go on a walk together. Finals are stressful enough without feeling like you haven’t talked to anyone (aside from maybe a few random shouts at your computer)!
- Schedule something to look forward to after finals.
This is my favorite tip! With winter finals, holidays seem to be the most common thing to look forward to once testing is over. However, you could schedule something as simple as a Netflix-binge day, a hike with friends, or a night out with your significant other. My husband and I are going to Wisconsin once finals are over, and I know I won’t enjoy myself if I don’t do well on my tests. That keeps me motivated to endure the pain of studying now so that I can enjoy myself once it is all over!
- Call/Facetime/Skype/Text/Snail Mail your parents/family.
When I am stressed, I find it helpful to talk to those who have watched my stress both unfold and resolve throughout my life. My parents have seen me (unnecessarily) stress out about almost everything my entire life, and they have also watched me do well and move on from these things. They seem to remember my abilities better than I do during these stressful times, and they are always willing to give me those words of support and encouragement that I need.
- Find resources that best fit you.
Throughout undergrad, I had the same studying methods for a few semesters. Once I started studying with others, and seeing how they studied, I started incorporating videos, group study sessions, recording lectures, and many other things to find what worked best for my brain. This semester I discovered Khan Academy, thanks to my classmates, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a visual learner or who just needs to hear the concepts repeatedly.
Good luck with your studying! You can do it.