Strategies on Surviving Finals Week

Carmina Bayombong

Male student brainstorming

Students pushing towards finals week can be as busy as Santa’s elves rushing to meet their Christmas deadlines. Most of us are no strangers to cramming, stress and a busy schedule especially when our final exams are fast-approaching, but those are all part of life’s training. And with more festive spirits around you due to the holiday season, finding the motivation to lock yourself inside your room and gear up for some information overload can really be a challenge.

To understand how we can help students survive finals week, we first reviewed the numbers. According to a recent study by 27% of students are willing to study for exams to the point of exhaustion; 64% get worried that they will get low grades due to stress and anxiety, and 75% procrastinate too much that they waste at least three hours a day to study for exams. While all these wrong practices are a bit alarming, students can easily avoid unnecessary stress if they only know how to prepare for finals week correctly.

So in the wise words of Lord Ned Stark and for metaphor’s sake — brace yourselves… winter is coming. To help you get into the right study marathon rhythm for your final exams, here are four useful tips you can try out.

Find a suitable study space.

Like any person wanting to live in a conducive and comfortable home, students also need to scout for a good environment where they can sit down for hours, have everything they need within reach, and study for finals week. Most students are simply complacent in studying inside their rooms or in cafes without even considering how distractions may hinder their learning process. For one, dorm rooms are usually cramped while cafes can be a bit noisy sometimes.

Consider finding a quiet and spacious space that’s devoted to studying like the library, an empty classroom, or even the park. Another myth about studying is how music can motivate your brain to take in more knowledge while brushing up on some lessons. Actually, white noise is more helpful than well-arranged notes and good singing (unless you’re studying music of course), so put away your earphones and exit Spotify for a moment.

However, for some students who absolutely need to listen to music in order to relax and help maintain focus, try opting for some soothing classical music instead of upbeat, catchy tunes.

Make a schedule.

A calendar is one of the most important tools in any activity that involves productivity and organization so naturally, preparing for your final exams requires one. And you’ll definitely need to jot down your schedules for all those project and paper deadlines, classes, and extra-curricular activities anyway.

If your finals week is spread out in a span of two weeks, you can do more studying by managing your time properly while prioritizing tasks. Think about what subjects you need to focus on to achieve higher grades and allot more time for lessons where you lag behind.

Are there any conflicting schedules you have to straighten out? Are you getting enough time outside studying for eating, sleeping, and taking care of yourself? Aside from being able to organize the things you have to do with the use of a calendar, you can also reserve more energy and lessen stress by strictly following your set schedules during the dreaded finals week.

Find a balance between study and rest.

Remember how 27% of students take the study-till-you-drop approach? This tip tells you that while you should allot ample time for studying during finals week, so should you take the time to give yourself ample breaks and rest. Studying to the point of fatigue often results in burnout which causes your energy levels to dwindle fast, your mind to be less open to new information, and can confuse you as you are taking the exams.

One important myth we want to shatter here is that caffeine, energy drinks and most especially Adderall (thank goodness it’s not available in the country), are helpful to students who are studying. These energy inducing alternatives can do more harm than good in how it crashes your mind and body after their effects wear off. They can also cause arrhythmia or the abnormal beating of the heart, and have even recorded a number of hospitalizations and fatalities in recent years.

Find a good balance between studying and taking a break and you’ll be fine. Take 15-minute power naps, five-minute breaks or longer if you need it, and find some time to stand up and breathe in some fresh air outside. Cheating your body into thinking that it has more energy than it actually does is equally worse than cheating on your final exams.

Stay healthy.

Aside from finding the time to take care of yourself through breaks and sleep, keeping yourself healthy is a whole other aspect you have to take note of when preparing for finals week. This means that you should find time to stretch, exercise, get nutrition, meditate, socialize, or any combination of those mentioned in order to keep yourself sane and healthy.

It’s easy to give in to the pressure of time and stress when finals week is on the horizon but reserving at least two lines on your calendar for health-related activities and reminders will do a lot for you more than you can imagine so jot it down in there.

Now if time is really scarce, try stacking up on healthy snacks and brain foods like nuts, blueberries, broccoli, and dark chocolate. Take non-narcotic supplements that can help you study such as ginkgo Biloba to increase blood flow to the brain, fish oils rich with omega-3 acids, and ginseng which improves memory. Vitamins like B-complex and Vitamin C also can also help reduce your anxiety. There are plenty of ways you can stay healthy despite the shadow of finals week hovering behind you at all times. Just always remember that the sicker you feel as finals week approaches, the bigger the possibility that you’ll underperform during your exams.

InvestEd is the leading education loan organization in the Philippines. We offer financial assistance depending on the students’ needs. Learn more about our complete programs and services here.