1. Plan it out
The key to having a stress-free finals week is scheduling it in advance so you don’t leave anything out or forget to study for your exam the next day. The Studying for Success website on dal.ca has a printable weekly schedule handout (and other great resources), so you can plan the whole week without leaving anything out. It will also help you determine your busiest moments and plan ahead—this way you’ll hopefully avoid having to cram for those two exams in one night!
2. Be realistic
A key part of finals is setting priorities. When you have so much material to learn in a short amount of time, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recopy a semester’s worth of notes for each class. Remember: you aren’t going to be able to read a whole textbook in one night, so spend your time studying effectively, like going over exam questions and making sure you understand the material.
3. Celebrate the small victories
It can be hard to stay motivated when you have to study for an exam that’s tomorrow after you JUST finished the last one, so make sure you acknowledge your accomplishments! Set achievable goals for studying, like finishing a practice exam, and once you’re done reward yourself with a break or a snack or whatever keeps you motivated. Otherwise, you’ll get more discouraged by failing to reach impossible goals.
4. Break it up
One of my biggest flaws when it comes to studying is taking breaks. I usually park myself at my desk and study for eight hours straight until my legs go numb. But I’ve found that I’m much more likely to take a break if it’s planned out in my schedule, and I know I can afford to take time. A good rule for breaks is taking 10 minutes after every hour of work, but if you’re like me and you get on a roll with whatever you’re doing, a different pattern like 30 minutes every two hours also works. Here are some ideas for taking short breaks.
5. Don’t forget self-care
You’ll come out the other side of finals in much worse physical and mental state if you skip the self-care to study an extra chapter of physics. A better way is to take on finals week in moderation. Giving yourself time to eat, sleep and shower will leave you feeling more motivated and less likely to experience burnout.
While pulling an all-nighter the night before your exam might seem like the best way to get a good grade, the last thing you want is to fall asleep or be too tired and checked out in the middle of your exam! Getting a full night’s sleep before your exam will let you be in the best shape to tackle any hard, unexpected questions that may come up in the exam.
Repeat after me: energy drinks are NOT a substitute for sleep!!
6. Be flexible
After scheduling your whole week down to the minute, you might feel stressed about unexpected events interfering with your plans. But that’s life! Don’t freak out when things come up, it doesn’t mean you have to throw away your whole plan! Move some things around and keep your priorities in mind so no deadlines sneak up on you.
Be confident in your plan and show those finals who’s boss!