Seven Tips for Surviving Finals
2 December 2016
Seven Tips for Surviving Finals
It’s that time of the year again: the dreaded finals time. I don’t know about y’all, but I am ready to turn in my final term paper, sit on the couch, and veg out for a long winter break. But before any of us can do that, we should prep and work on our finals. Hopefully, it’s no surprise that there are a few studies out there that offer some helpful tips on prepping for the end of the semester, and I thought I’d share my favorite seven from a few different sources.
- “Create a master to-do list and a schedule for the remaining days in the semester.” Break it down by due dates and exam dates and make sure you give yourself enough time to be comfortable, but still get everything done within a manageable schedule.
- “Triage your study time.” Do you think you should spend equal amounts of time preparing for each course? You don’t — proportion your study time; make sure you spend more time on the course where you feel less confident.
- “Decide if it’s going to be a grand tour or lots of local attractions.” Does your professor want a cumulative term paper/final, or are they looking for specific portions of the class? Figure out the answer and respond accordingly with a continuation of the triage method.
- “Develop summary sheets for each class.” Figure out what happened on the important class days and organize or rewrite your notes to help formulate study guides or paper outlines.
- Writing and study groups can be helpful if they make sense. My cohort and I have a paper writing group for one of our classes. Though we are all working on different projects, the camaraderie and shared experience are helpful for the writing process.
- “Pace yourself!” I know when finals crunch time comes around, we often turn to marathon study sessions and writing periods, thinking that’s the best way to crank out as much work as possible in as little time as possible; however, this is actually not the most effective strategy. Make the most of the time you have by pacing yourself: focus for shorter periods of time. Take breaks and walk around.
- “Manage your anxiety. By listening to calming music, stretching or breathing deeply, you can avoid stress and release negative thoughts.” Sometimes we avoid anxiety by avoiding the things that are making us anxious (e.g., studying for an exam or writing a paper), which can lead to procrastination and even more anxiety. Listening to music and intentional breathing and stretching can help you manage your energy in a constructive way. I love creating playlists or listening to the same song on repeat the whole time I’m writing. My entire master’s thesis was written to “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed.
I hope you have found some of these tips interesting and/or helpful, and I wish us all luck during this end-of-the-term marathon. If you feel yourself needing a break from studying, check out the events offered by different departments at GMU during DeStress Fest on either the Arlington or Fairfax campus. Remember the goal is in view… WINTER IS COMING.
 The tips are collected from following sources:
Hyman, Jeremy S., and Lynn F. Jacobs. “Top 15 Hot Tips for Finals.” U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report, 10 Dec. 2010.
Streufert, Billie. “25 Crucial Study Tips for Finals Week.” USA Today. Gannett, 8 Dec. 2014.