By: Kalyn Wilson
Oh, finals week. It’s a wonder how the same cry is heard from the hearts of college students around the world. We dread this week when it arrives, even though we know it’s coming all along. Then we start on the harmful trek of all-nighters and caffeine diets just to make it through seven days of tough testing. But we make it.
Fortunately, I’m overly interested in how to work smarter instead of harder, so there are a few things I have learned that can make finals week go a lot smoother. I’m also concerned about this because I witnessed one of my best friends work herself into the hospital after binge-studying for finals week, which was one of the scariest times of my life. The only person who can really look out for your health is you, and in spite of what society says, you don’t have to compromise good health for good grades.
First thing I would say is that planning is everything. A lot of people are caught off guard by finals because they didn’t really pay attention to the schedule until shortly before it begins. If you know that you have three tests on one day, then you might be more prone to studying earlier instead of waiting until a couple of nights before - or possibly getting some tests moved around. Do yourself a favor and know what you’re getting yourself into before finals week is upon us.
Next thing is to relax. Every “hell” week I have ever been successful at were weeks when I was relaxed. I’m not saying be lazy or disengaged; I am saying don’t be frantic and work this week up to be more than what it is. I understand if this is a week of make-or-break moments, but approaching it with anxiety will magnify it. Instead, keep things in perspective and know that it’s nothing you can’t handle. Then, you’ll be level-headed and ready to attack.
For the actual studying part, I say figure out what really works best for you. This is different for everybody and sometimes takes time to figure out. For me, I love to study in the gym (because exercising releases hormones that increase memory recall and I’m burning calories - it’s a win-win). I also prefer to use flashcards on Quizlet and do group studying because I learn best when I have to “teach” it. There are several other methods, like concept maps, studying at certain times and in certain places and even altering your diet and sleep pattern. Do some research and devise a plan for yourself. This will help you feel more confident about the time you are spending on your studying, and, obviously, increase the effectiveness of your studies.
My last important point is to get rest. Seriously. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of memory retention. That’s when your mind actually processes and “saves” all the hard work you have done. I know it’s tempting to cram for as many hours as you can, but it works best when you work really efficiently and then get as many hours of sleep as you can. Besides, if you get enough rest to get you to the next day, you won’t have to depend on harmful substances to keep you going, which can lead to very costly consequences.
The moral of the story is a successful finals week takes balance. It speaks to the idea that if you run yourself ragged, you won’t have your best self to give to the world. Fulfill and rejuvenate yourself so you’ll be more than full in order to pour into the world...and your tests. You are in college for a reason, so don’t doubt for a second that you can be successful. That way, you won’t be as tempted to exchange your health and well-being for it either.