Late nights, a terrible pang in your stomach, nightmares about missed deadlines and ten-page papers; no, it’s not the latest horror flick, it’s an even more nerve-wracking phenomenon known as college finals. *Cue the foreboding piano music*
As a college senior, I now have the luxury of not having any actual final exams as I finish out my last semester, but over the last four years I have had my fair share of both experiencing and witnessing the panic that ensues during finals time. It tends to look something like this: copious amounts of caffeine, eyes that can barely stay open, and some combination of flip flops and sweatpants worn every day throughout finals week.
The tried-and-true tips and tricks for beating stress during finals are fairly obvious. Eat well, sleep, yada, yada.
As a wise old senior, I have learned that most students will most likely not adhere to these tips because sometimes the stress of cramming and trying not to burn out really does overwhelm you. So here are my personal tips for how to beat the stress of finals , or at least lessen it, in no particular order.
Make A Playlist
Music is nothing if not therapeutic. There are times when you will feel completely lazy and uninterested in studying, or getting out of bed really. Music can almost immediately offer a mood boost. Use sites like Pandora, Spotify, or 8tracks to find playlists or create your own to suit your personality and study style. If you work best in quiet atmospheres, look for soothing sounds or instrumentals. For those who work better to a tempo, make a list of upbeat songs to really energize you (epic film scores like Lord of the Rings are also great for banging out that ten-page paper). YouTube also has a great selection of study playlists.
Stop Wasting Time
Notice I didn’t say “Don’t procrastinate.” You will procrastinate, it comes with the territory of being a college student. But I like to think of procrastination as stalling for time rather than wasting time. If you have to step away from studying or typing a paper, then do that, because it will help clear your mind and put you at ease at least for a moment. That being said, when you sit down to actually do work, don’t waste time. At all. Don’t update you status, watch cat videos, or pin to your board on Pinterest. When you are in a productive zone, be fully committed, you will get work done much faster. Setting a realistic time limit for studying (for example, forty-five minute blocks) also helps with concentration and productivity.
Post Your Finals Schedule…Everywhere
There are always the unfortunate few who oversleep or miss an exam completely because he or she forgot when the exam was supposed to take place. Print out the exam schedule, write it on a Post-It note, put it on a dry erase board, store it in your phone. Put it everywhere so that you actually have the opportunity to take the exam and put all of your hard work to good use.
Become A Snacker
During finals week, you will find that you are either hungrier than usual or will have less time to eat whole meals, so become a snacker. Find a few snacks that travel well, don’t need refrigeration, and that aren’t too messy and much on them every few hours. Whether it’s nuts, whole fruit, crackers, or even chocolate, find a good snack and eat as needed. Your energy levels and stomach will thank you.
I know you may be thinking, what does dance have to do with advice for finals? It actually has everything to do with it. On top of just being pure fun, it will force you to get up and move around and help take your mind off grade point averages and grading curves. The gym will probably become less enticing during finals week, so dancing works as exercise without feeling like exercise. You can just turn up your go-to song and flail around alone in your room or turn it into a group activity with friends.
There are tons of articles out there that offer advice for how to cope with and even ace finals, but you have to adapt the advice to your own habits. These are just some of things that have served me well in the past four years, don’t be afraid to use one or all of them in whatever way best suits you. Happy finals and may the odds be ever in your favor!