The ultimate guide to surviving finals

Surviving finals week isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Making the most of your final days of the semester will give you confidence and calmness that you can apply to other situations in your life – and that kind of wisdom definitely comes in handy! 

This ultimate guide to surviving finals will help you get through these next few days and graduate with high marks and lots of confidence! Let’s take a look at how to survive finals.

1) Prepare Ahead

You can make sure you are prepared for final exams by taking advantage of all possible opportunities. Start preparing early. Use your free time wisely and study whenever you can. If you have a test, try to figure out how long it will take you to study before that test, then divide that number by how much time is left before your exam date.

Take advantage of any online resources available to help with studying, such as books or websites with practice questions for tests. Use these methods in combination with one another so that they complement each other.

2) Stay Healthy

Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your body and actually make you more likely to get sick. To stay healthy through your final exams, it’s essential to keep yourself well-hydrated and consume plenty of vitamin C (such as citrus fruits or green leafy vegetables).

And try not to work too late into the night—sleep is just as crucial for test prep as it is for staying healthy. Getting enough sleep will ensure that you don’t miss out on any critical information when studying.

3) Follow your routine

During your typical day, you know what time you need to wake up and go to bed. During your typical week, you know when and how often you need to exercise and prepare meals. And during your typical month, you know when big events like parties or holidays are coming up and can plan accordingly. You’re not going crazy; it’s called a routine for a reason! It makes life easier by simplifying decision-making.

But most importantly?

Habits make getting through an event like finals season much less stressful because they allow you to follow a set of guidelines without too much thought or effort on your part.

4) Surround yourself with people who care about you

Some people might tell you that you need thick skin to survive—but I think they’re wrong. Instead, surround yourself with people who care about you. It might seem contradictory, but it works: If you have lots of positive relationships in your life, your motivation and confidence will stay strong even as challenges come your way. You’ll feel supported and encouraged instead of vulnerable and frustrated—and those good feelings will carry over into everything else in your life.

5) Make a study schedule and stick to it

It’s hard enough to pull all-nighters when you have a week-long break at your disposal. It’s downright impossible when you have no time to prepare—which, for most of us, is every single semester. To make things worse, our energy levels are naturally low in the winter months (and even more so in early January). If you find yourself struggling with energy levels during finals season, try adding foods rich in vitamin D—such as salmon and mackerel—to your diet.

6) Review frequently

Flashcards and mnemonics. Most people associate studying with spending hours sitting in front of a computer, poring over books and notes. While that’s certainly one way to study, it’s not necessarily the most effective or efficient (particularly if you’re short on time). Another option is using flashcards and mnemonics. 

Flashcards involve writing down any question you might have about a topic on two sides of an index card. Then, you can test yourself by flipping through a stack of cards—and keep repeating until you know everything on them without having to look at them.

7) Use tools to help remember information

There are so many ways to use technology to your advantage. You can set up Google Calendar to remind you of upcoming exams, create lists on Evernote, and even download apps that will help you study more effectively. 

If you’re an auditory learner, listen to music that relaxes you while studying. If you learn best by seeing information written down, take notes using an app like OneNote or Microsoft Word. With so many great resources available online, there’s no excuse for not being prepared for final exams!

8) Learn from the mistakes you have made in previous tests

Even though you’ve been in school for a while, it can be easy to get ahead of yourself. Making time at least a week before finals to sit down and think through your mistakes will help you get back on track and prepare yourself for future tests. 

Try going over your tests from previous semesters, but don’t just focus on what you got wrong—think about what kinds of errors you frequently make and how you can correct them so they don’t happen again. 

If math is a particular trouble spot for you, try working through practice problems with an online tutor or asking your teacher for extra help if needed. Figuring out why something didn’t work last time will go a long way towards ensuring it goes smoothly next time around.

9) Create a positive mindset

Having a positive mindset will help you stay focused on your goals. Studies have shown that students who had a positive outlook earned higher grades and had fewer absences from class, more academic success, and an overall better attitude toward their studies. 

In fact, some people say you can learn more in one hour of having fun than four hours of stress! If you need advice on overcoming your fears or if exams aren’t really your thing, try talking with someone like a friend or parent who has been through it before—they may be able to help set your mind at ease.

10) Find stress-reducing activities

If you’re stressing out about how much work you have, there are plenty of ways to reduce your stress levels. Take a walk, exercise, meditate, get enough sleep each night—it could even help you focus during exams. Spend time with friends and family who will keep your mind off of things. And hey, do what you love, too! 

If all else fails, consider making an appointment with a counselor or psychologist who can offer additional advice or information about stress management techniques that may work for you. You deserve it—and so does your health! You needn’t suffer for weeks on end just because it’s finals season—but do take care of yourself first and foremost so that you can put your best foot forward when it really matters.

Wrapping up

As you review these tips, try to think about your current stress level and what else you may need. Are there other emotions you’re feeling? Are there places on campus where you can really focus for a block of time? Are there things we didn’t list that will help with stress and anxiety? 

And most importantly: how do you want to feel at the end of finals week? Whether it’s peace, enjoyment, or accomplishment, remember that feelings come from within, not from outside forces. Just like learning anything else in life: when we’re in control of our mindset and attitude, we’re in control of our outcome.

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