It’s that time of year again. No, not Christmas, silly. It’s finals week! Starting this Monday, students all across the LMU campus will be prepping for those dreaded final exams and term papers. While it can definitely be a stressful time, finding the right balance of work with fun can definitely make things a lot easier. Having survived four tough finals week periods myself, I’ve finally figured out that having the right game plan makes a huge difference in the outcome of my final grades. For this week’s blog post, my classmates and I have collaborated to make a list of all the things that help us get through finals. Whether this is your very first time at it or you’ve tried and still haven’t figured out what works best for you, we hope that these tips can provide a bit of relief to you in the coming week.
“Make a calendar of what your finals week is going to look like.” – Jenna, one of my suitemates
Having the entire week mapped out is the very first thing you should do. Knowing which day each exam is on (you can find the final exam schedule here) and penciling in study time between each test will automatically make the task seem much more doable and much less terrifying. The picture to the right is actually how my calendar looked during midterms week, but the idea works all semester long. I even color code each task according to what kind of event it is, from RAILS work to a singing commitment to a homework assignment. This way I always know whether the upcoming week will be marked by lots of stress or lots of fun (and hopefully it will be the latter!)
“Cry. Just cry.” – LMU Julie
She’s just kidding, folks! Julie is actually one of the best I know at NOT letting the stress of finals week get to her. Studying, of course, is the key to passing any final exam, but Julie and I can both vouch for the importance of having downtime during finals week. When organic chemistry or physics gets to be too much for us to handle, we blow off some steam for a while by baking cookies, watching movies, going out to eat, or playing board games. Sometimes just talking to someone about how stressed you are can release all that tension and make you relaxed enough to get back to studying. Roommates can be a great ear, but LMU also has stress and mental health counselors on-campus for you to talk to if no one else will listen.
“Eat lots and lots of cinnamon rolls!” – Amanda, one of my suitemates
Cinnamon rolls are Amanda’s favorites, but really, any snacks will do! Healthy snacks like apples and bananas are the best choices because of all the nutrients that help stimulate your brain, but it’s okay to have a few sweets, too. I like to stock up on Sweet Tarts and gummy worms for my bigger tests because I can actually incorporate them into my studying. I place one or two at the end of each section, and after I’ve finished studying that part, I reward myself with the candy. There are also lots of mood-boosting foods that you can include in your regular diet during finals week, including cereal, green tea, and even chocolate!
“Don’t study in groups.” – Megan, my roommate
There are lots of pros and cons to having study groups. On one hand, you can help each other figure out which parts of your test you’re still not sure about, and realizing you’re not the only one struggling can make you feel much more relaxed going into your test. On the other hand, you’re more likely to goof off together and stray off topic while you’re trying to study. Having one or two study buddies might not hurt, but having half the class together at once is probably not going to prepare you for your exam. Study by yourself as often as you can, but if you just need someone to help you with certain topics, you should check out LMU’s free peer tutoring services in the Tagge center.
“Avoid social media.” – This one’s from me!
This is the part about finals week that I always have the most trouble with. I set out studying, intent on covering a whole chapter before I take any breaks, and I somehow find myself watching YouTube videos without any idea how I got there. To make sure that you’re not distracted by flashing Facebook notifications and pretty dresses on Pinterest, I recommend going to the library. There’s something about being in a place devoted to studiousness that makes it easier to stay focused on the task at hand. I once spent over two and a half hours in my favorite little nook of the library and cut myself off from my cell phone in an attempt to finish a big paper for one of my classes. It really did help! I ended up getting an A on the paper, and the time spent away from all of my social networks made a huge difference.
“Don’t pull all-nighters.” – From all of us
When I asked my friends for their input on this blog as to how to survive finals week, the decision on sleep was unanimous! All-nighters are never a good idea for anything, whether it’s writing a paper or studying for a test. The last time I made this mistake was when I stayed up all night to write an entire ten-page paper and then had to go to class early the next morning. I was really out of it all day. I’m sure I said all sorts of crazy things to my friends in my stupor, and I can distinctly remember almost walking out in front of a car while I was heading back to my room! I never want to feel that tired ever again, so I try to finish papers as soon as they’re assigned and I make an effort to keep up with my studying throughout the semester, not just the night before the test. If you want even more reasons not to pull an all-nighter, you should check out what LMU-DCOM Justin has to say.
I hope this post leaves you feeling encouraged and empowered as you prepare to take all of your final exams! This week can be a huge success if you just find the right game plan that works for you. And don’t forget to celebrate when it’s over because you’ve earned it! If you have any more questions about how to get through finals week, feel free to leave a comment below, or go read LMU Erin‘s post for even more tips.