As a second-semester senior, I have taken my fair share of finals. Whether it is a cumulative exam or a get-dressed-up presentation, I can confidently say I’ve exhausted—and been exhausted from—the final exam week process. That being said, four years of stress later, I have had ample opportunities to craft an A+ Finals Week Survival Guide.
- Make a Game Plan
I’m not sure what it is about the month of April, but it just seems to fly by faster than any other month in the calendar year. One minute you’re stressing about your Ribbons of Excellence presentation, and by the time you finish your presentation, it is somehow Final Exam Week. With the chaos that the month of April brings, it is important to devise a game plan for studying. Personally, I like to start by looking up the final exam schedule, so I’m well aware of when my exams are set to take place. From there, it is all about creating a plan that works best for you and your study habits! Personally, I’m a big fan of creating a checklist for what I want to have done by the end of each day and week. Some people like paper lists, google calendar reminders, the Notion software, etc. The “Stickies” extension on my computer is my go-to organizational tool. However, while starting early and creating a final exam week study schedule is important, don’t let your ability to stick to your schedule alter your self-worth and perception of your productivity. If you don’t get something done that you had originally planned, remember to appreciate all that you were able to accomplish. We often get so tied up with accomplishing a set of goals that we sometimes forget that the process of learning itself should also be celebrated.
- Romanticize the Studying Experience
On the one hand, you could completely dread the anticipated studying experience. I have felt that way before, and sometimes, the dread and stress of simply starting to study can completely deter you from feeling prepared when it comes to exam time. However, on the other hand, you can create an enjoyable experience and atmosphere that makes you relatively comfortable and eager to begin your work. For me, this looks like a quiet space, with a caffeinated beverage in hand and a sweatshirt packed in my bag in case I get cold (which will most likely happen). Currently, I’m writing this article in Musgrove + Company with my sweatshirt on, brown noise in my headphones and iced vanilla matcha with almond milk by my side. Treating myself to a nice drink and sipping it as I work completely transforms my study experience. While matcha may not bring you the same joy that it brings me, find what brings you joy and incorporate it into your study plan!
- Schedule Breaks
Take it from someone who never used to do this— breaks are important. I very much used to be that person who would sit in the library for ten hours and not give myself a break until the task was done. However, as someone who now schedules breaks, I have found my overall productivity to be much higher. Sometimes for me, this looks like changing study locations, getting a snack, or going to do something with my friends. Bonus points are warranted if your break includes some fresh air! My current favorite break-time activity includes rollerblading with my roommate. A short 30-minute break can really do wonders for your creativity, inspiration, and overall brain power!
- Fuel Your Brain
This somewhat goes hand-in-hand with the last tip, but make sure you are fueling your brain! It is not worth it to skip lunch because you are stressed or want more time to study. You will not be as productive if your brain is not well nourished. I do not know the exact science behind this, but from personal experience, once I feel academically tapped out, that usually means it is time for a meal. If you feel like you do not need a break but are hungry, you could opt to work in a restaurant. I personally like McAlsiter’s Deli because you can sit in there for hours, and the employees will always refill your drink for free— a great option for a college student’s budget!
- Find Your Support System
Finals Week is a universally stressful time for everyone here at Adrian College. Create a support system with your friends and hold each other accountable. Go to a coffee shop with each other and say you will dedicate two hours there to get work done. Check-in on your friends. How are you all feeling going into the week? What do you need from each other? For example, you could present your final projects to your friends for practice! Personally, my friends always hear my presentations before I have to give them in front of a larger audience. And, if you need help beyond your friends, Adrian College has many academic resources you can utilize for free! Need help with a paper? Check out the Writing Center (Caine 133). Stuck on a math problem? Head to the Math Lab (Peele 215). For a more comprehensive list of services—including a place to sign up for private tutoring—check out a list compiled by Academic Services.
While everyone’s ideal study plan will differ, I hope these tips at least offer a bit of solace in knowing that you are not alone— the final exam process is both stressful and exhausting for all. However, I also hope that these tips will help you craft the most effective and enjoyable study process possible. Keep up the great work, Bulldogs, and remember that summer break is just around the corner!