Making Your Way Through Finals

    I’m sure anyone who reads this and is a student already knows the number one thing that we experience during finals week: stress.  Everyone experiences this and I might even say that a moderate amount of this is good; it helps to motivate us to get everything done.  However, too much stress can cause us to forget some very important things, such as taking care of ourselves.  For me, the following things are vital in helping me to do well on finals:

    1) Getting enough sleep.

Cozy looking bed.  Picture from Here Comes the Sun.

    
          Now, I know pulling all-nighters are common in college, especially before test days, but in reality they may not be as helpful.  According to Brown UniversityIt’s well documented that sleep deprived students perform significantly worse than students who regularly get a good night’s sleep. REM sleep is particularly important for consolidating newly learned information, and a large proportion of REM sleep occurs towards the end of the night. So studying most of the night for a test, and then sleeping only a few hours, decreases your ability to remember new information.”  Rather than trying to study more the night before the exam, go to bed at a reasonable time.  Get a full eight hours of sleep in the night before the exam.

    2) Eating well and exercising.
          A lot of the time, stress makes me want to eat a bunch of junk food.  This is a little bit of a way of coping, but this can also be harmful towards my performance during finals week.  Rather than cope with my stress through eating cookies and other desserts, I go for a run.  Brown University also says that “general health and stress resistance can be enhanced by regular exercise, a diet rich in a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and by avoiding excessive alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.”  So if you want to feel balanced and in control during finals week, cut out a bit of time to break from your studies and go for a short jog–20 to 30 minutes.

3) Spending some of your time studying with friends/classmates.
          I know this specific one is not for everyone.  It doesn’t work for every subject for me.  Sometimes I need to study by myself, but other times it’s helpful to study with others and to help each other out.  It’s also comforting sometimes to hear other individuals under-preparedness, so you know you’re not alone in your nervousness about the upcoming exam.

    Here’s a study checklist from my own school, Texas A&M:

Did You… Yes No Points for a
“Yes” Answer
1. Attend all classes 1
2. Review your notes daily 3
3. Read material prior to it being covered in class 1
4. Study daily 3
5. Have at least one conference with the professor 1
6. Develop and learn a word list for the course 2
7. Read materials to improve your background in the course (other than text) 1
8. Attend help session 1
9. Attend learning resource lab when available 1
10. Develop a list of possible questions 2
11. Ask questions in class 1
12. Study an old exam (when available) 1
13. Avoid a last minute cram session 1
14. Sleep at least 8 hours the night before 1
Add your total points, plus one point for each hour you spent in preparation over 20 hours; in other words if you spent 25 hours, add 5 points.

    Good luck to everyone on their finals!  Just remember that you can do it!  Just give it your all and once it’s over, it’s over.  Enjoy every step of the way.

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