Finals: how to survive them

Michaela Bush, Columnist

It’s that time of the semester again.  Finals are closing in and last-minute assignments are being piled on until you’re probably ready to scream (or you already have done so into a pillow; I won’t judge).  However, being stressed out doesn’t help you out one bit when it comes to this last leg of the semester.
First of all, take some time to schedule the remainder of the semester out as well as you possibly can.  Being prepared allows a huge chunk of stress to slide off almost immediately, because you’re not trying to remember what assignment you forgot to send in.  Build quick study sessions—15 to 30 minutes is actually suggested to be the optimal amount of time spent per study session because you’re not cramming—around your work and class schedule.  Take that physics textbook with you to read during your lunch break at work, or run to the library in between classes so you can study somewhere quiet.  Make sure you’re not staying up until 4 a.m. studying, either—studying is important, but keeping your brain fresh is more important, and getting a proper amount of rest helps you to better retain the information you gleaned from your classes during the day.  Try to avoid creating any stress-inducing appointments or interviews for this week unless it’s absolutely, positively necessary: undue stress is a mere distraction that can eat at you and distract you from your work.  Finally, creating a schedule or a to-do list is pretty satisfying because you can see that daunting list dwindle away.
Secondly, exercise or at least get out in the sun for a little bit each day.  I know it’s impossible to ask you to add this to your crazy schedule, so take your notes outside and sit in a sunny spot for awhile, or go for a jog while listening to an audio reading of your textbook chapter, if at all possible.
Additionally, procrastination is the worst thing you can possibly do right now.  I know it’s really tempting, but don’t let the Dark Side pull you in.  If you find yourself wanting to put off an assignment, OK—work on another one with a closer deadline instead, or go for that jog I mentioned earlier.  Make sure you’re doing something productive and efficient!  If you think your brain has gone to mush or your eyes are too tired to work at a computer screen or book, now might be a good time to treat yourself.  Grab a snack, take an hour to go volunteer at the local animal shelter—kittens are usually stress-relievers—or play some music to get your blood pumping and wake you up, something that you know will raise your energy or motivation levels.  I’ve found that movie scores such as ones from Marvel’s “The Avengers” or Captain Jack Sparrow’s theme song –something with a good beat—will catch my attention and sharpen my mind for studying, for example.
If you’re struggling with a topic, make sure to ask your professor for help as soon as possible.  You can also check YouTube for tutorials that might help clarify a question, especially for mathematics or science formulas, and also especially if you’re a visual learner.  Additionally, PurdueOWL is a great resource to ensure that your final essays are properly formatted.  It might seem like a waste of time to look this stuff up, but it certainly helps your grade—just ensure you don’t get distracted by social media while you’re on your computer or smartphone doing so.


Above all, don’t let the stress get to you to the point where you completely blank up during your exams.  This has happened to me before, and it’s a horrible feeling. The grade will suffer due to it, and I hope none of you end up doing that for your finals.  Take some deep breaths, put some lavender oil on your wrists or clothes to smell—it’s naturally calming— and tell yourself that you can do this, because you can.  Best of luck to everyone!

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