Ace Your Finals: Tips & Tricks

As a soon-to-be graduate, I’ve had my fair share of finals stress. From pulling all-nighters and downing Red Bull to cramming an hour before an exam, I’ve seen and done almost everything to try and study as much as possible. To avoid the stress finals week brings here are some tips and tricks for you to prep for your tests.

  1. Avoid pulling all-nighters. Going into a test with little to no sleep can hurt you more than help you. The Journal of Sleep Research did a study on sleep deprivation among undergraduates. They found that lack of sleep can cause slow reaction times and difficulty concentrating and making decisions. Additionally, those taking a test off after pulling an all-nighter were more likely to do a simple task over a difficult one.
  2. Study the material you don’t know. Don’t waste time looking over material you already know. Instead, focus on the content you aren’t sure about. This way you won’t get stuck on an entire section of an exam.
  3. Prepare early. As soon as you get an exam study guide, start working on it. Delaying it will only make it harder to study all the information. Typically professors give study guides a week before the test. If you start writing notes or making flashcards the day you get the study guide, you will have a full week to start retaining the material you don’t know.
  4. Write it down. Studies show that writing notes by hand helps students learn more than typing them on a laptop. It may seem old fashioned, but it’s effective. So grab a notebook and pencil and start writing!
  5. Make sure you’re awake. Walking into a test right after you’ve woken up feels nearly as bad as pulling an all-nighter. Shake the groggy morning feeling by drinking a cup of coffee or orange juice, stretching or listening to music. It’s easier to focus on a task when you’re fully awake.
  6. Come prepared. Be sure you walk into the test mentally and physically prepared. Make sure you have notes (if you’re allowed to use them), two pens/pencils and a positive attitude.
  7. Dress comfortably. You shouldn’t be worrying about impressing people during finals week. Nearly every other student is in the same situation. You don’t have to forgo style but wear a comfortable outfit so you can focus all your efforts on the test questions rather than squirming around in your clothes.
  8. Skip questions. If you don’t know the answer to a question, skip over it and go back to it later. Don’t waste time debating the answer on a question when you could answer 5 more questions that you do know.
  9. Relax before and after. Whether it’s meditation or listening to music, find a way to relax before each test. After your last exam is done, don’t think about it. Don’t get stuck on a certain question and continue wondering about it after the exam is handed in. Push it out of your mind and find an activity to unwind.
  10. Reward yourself. In the end, you probably did better on the exams then you think you did. Reward yourself for all your hard work and studying by treating yourself. Personally, I like to reward myself with a mani/pedi or a massage. For those not looking to spend that much money, I recommend enjoying a cheat meal like ice cream or pizza.

Remember: finals week comes around twice a year, so start preparing early, stay relaxed and most importantly get some sleep.


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