It’s that dreadful time of year: finals season. During my first year of college, finals went exactly how you would have expected: endless all-nighters, running solely on coffee, ramen, and snacks, and living in my pajamas. However, the next two semesters, I was determined to figure out a strategy to never face such misery again. Here are some tips and tricks for this season:
1. Start early.
Basically the most important step. I would recommend studying at least three weeks to one month ahead of time. It starts out with the very basics: make a schedule, figure out which finals you need to do well on and which ones you can have more lee-way with. Start making Quizlets and things you can use on the go. The main purpose of starting early is to strictly organize yourself and prepare yourself mentally for what’s ahead.
2. Actually study.
If you know what I am hinting by this, chances are this tip is for you. Don’t go to the Q and I section in Rush Rhees to study, don’t go to Gleason to study, don’t go to Starbucks to study. These are all social hubs that are more for checking your email and hanging out with friends than serious studying. The trick is efficiency over time. You can spend hours and hours working on a math assignment and finish one problem because you were “working” with a friend, or you can do the same problem in 30 minutes if you sit down and concentrate somewhere quiet. I recommend studying in Carlson, within the stacks, and other designated quiet areas. If you live in a quiet residence hall, you can even study in your room if you can assure you will not be distracted. Put a sign on your door if you have friends who like to filter in and out. Personally, I like to work in my room in the early morning, then study in the library for the rest of the day.
3. Dress comfortably, but confidently.
A lot of this advice is YOU DO YOU! It’s difficult for me to sincerely study if I am not wearing something that is comfortable. However, for some people, it’s all about dress for success. Believe it or not, clothing matters when it comes to studying and can affect how well you perform. It’s not something that is one way or another, but it something that you should take into mind. You don’t have to wear a suit to study, but maybe don’t wear the same hoodie for three days straight.
4. Sleep for at least six hours at minimum.
You know those silly mistakes you make here and there that end up being a quarter of the pointers you missed? A lot of that can be attributed to attention and anxiety. To help manage this type of stress, the answer is simple: get more sleep! Warning: there will be some nights when you just have a lot of work to do and there’s nothing that can be really done about it. However, on the other days, put your phone down and just go to bed. A lot of this relies on step one, planning and starting early. If you don’t plan your time effectively, you won’t be able to get the work done that you need to get done ahead of time.
5. Don’t study for long periods of time.
Focusing on one subject for seven hours isn’t going to get you anywhere. Divide your time into chunks and be effective in those chunks. The trick here is to write out the amount of time you will plan to spend on a subject. This could be by literal time (hours) or by assignment. That is, I could spend two hours on math homework or finish problems #1 and #2. Once again, this is whatever works for you.
6. No distractions.
You can live without social media for two weeks. Trust me. This doesn’t mean you have to deactivate your Facebook, but if you need to uninstall applications from your phone or block certain websites, do it! I will sometimes mute my phone or set up specific times that I will check my phone. If you’re a person who is scared that you might miss an important message or phone call, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” with a parent or roommate on the exceptions list. Keep your phone on, but refrain from scrolling through your Facebook feed or looking at memes.
7. Eat right!
Ugh, I know! I don’t mean you have to eat salad every day, but you will have more energy and feel better if you make even the slightest adjustment in your diet and exercise. If you’re feeling tired, do some yoga instead of going on a run. Instead of eating a cookie, eat some fruit.
These are just some friendly pointers. A lot of this relies on you and holding yourself accountable. Don’t make excuses. If you have to do something, do it! Hard work pays off!