It’s that time of year again… Finals are coming! They always say the semester flies by and finals will be here before you know it, and boy are they right. It feels like just a few weeks ago we were arriving on campus and beginning fall courses, and yet finals are just a few days away! As the next few days will most certainly be filled with lots of studying and anxiety and all the fun feelings that accompany finals week, we have provided a short list of tips to help you navigate through this next week of… “learning” ;) 

  • Maintain a healthy diet – We have heard for years that we need to eat a healthy breakfast on the morning of a big exam. Well, the same is true for studying in preparation for a big exam. Snacking can be an easy and tempting way to augment any intense session of studying. When you do inevitably get the urge to snack, reach for a fruit or vegetable before grabbing chips or other unhealthy “comfort foods.” By maintaining a healthy diet from studying through completion of your exams, your mind and body will be better able to retain the information you study, recall that information on the exam, and cope with the innumerable stresses of finals week.
  • Plan breaks – As much as it may feel like it, you are not going to spend every waking minute of the next week studying. You will need to schedule your time carefully, but include strategic breaks that will help make your study time more effective. You will get more accomplished studying for 2 hours per day over 5 days than you would studying for 10-15 hours over 1 day. Plan breaks into your schedule and use them to regroup before diving back into your textbooks and notes.
    • Some breaks may include on-campus activities such as the following:
      • WED, 12/7: Environmental Club Lorax Movie Night, Rockland, 7pm
      • THUR, 12/8: MAP, Holiday Cookie Jar Making, Rockland, 7pm
      • FRI, 12/9: R.E.A.L. Paint Night, Rockland, 4pm - 7pm
  • Exercise – Don’t let the need to study stop you from getting a nice brisk walk in or heading down to the gym for a little while. Exercising is one planned break that can break up the monotony of endless studying, give your mind a break while you improve your body, and release much-needed endorphins to help you regroup and get the most out of each study session.
  • Sleep – Pulling the finals week “all-nighter” may be cute on TV shows and movies, but it is almost always a terrible idea. Maintaining a healthy sleeping schedule is imperative to performing your best when it comes time to take an exam. Realize that if you haven’t figured something out by 4:00 AM on the morning of the exam, you probably aren’t going to get it on the test that day. Close the books, get some rest, and recall whatever you did learn throughout the semester. This approach will prove significantly more beneficial than trying to cram all night and depriving yourself the brain power necessary to recall even the simplest details once the test is actually in front of you.
  • Arrive early – on the day of your exam, plan to show up to the classroom early. In addition to ensuring that you are not late for the exam, arriving early will also provide you with an opportunity to speak with classmates prior to the exam about their study habits and concerns. Another classmate may have focused on a subject or issue that you did not spend enough time on, so you can bounce a few ideas off of each other before the exam is handed out.
  • Pace yourself – Do not rush through the exam that you have already invested so much time and effort into. Look through the exam and determine a strategy that will help you do your best. Take your time, as most exams will not take you nearly the two hours that you are allotted to complete it. Keep an eye on the clock to make sure you are not getting behind, and ask your professor to help your class keep an eye on the clock by providing periodic reminders of the time remaining.
  • Review your work – most of you will complete your exams with plenty of time to spare. Don’t just turn in your exam the second you complete the last answer. Instead, close your eyes, take a deep breath, regroup, and then review your answers to ensure your satisfaction with each response. It can be difficult to carry out this task when the end is so close, but checking your work can pay off mightily if you come across a skipped question or incorrect answer. An extra ten minutes checking your own work can go a long way in ensuring you finish with the best grade possible.

Work hard and finish strong now. Then, you'll have several weeks of holiday gatherings and friendly get-togethers where you will be able to brag about how great you did in your fall courses!