Ah, finals week – the most dreaded part of the semester. Honestly, I am so not ready. A lot of my professors do this funny thing where they work you until the very last second…which makes it a million times harder to prep.
However, as a seasoned vet (I’ve been through 4 of these already!) I think I’ve got a routine down pretty solid. I’ve found that there are a bunch of ways to prep to make that stress a little less, well, stressful.
1. The early bird catches the worm!
I hate cliches just as much as you do, but this is a good one when it comes to finals. My first semester of college I scrambled during finals week because it came at me from nowhere, which I do not recommend!
Once you’ve accepted the fact that, yes, finals are coming up, start taking action. Talk to your professors about what is going to be on the exam, even if it’s two weeks away. They’ll appreciate your initiative and drive, and it’ll help you feel better about the amount of content you have to tackle.
Another good idea is to start studying as soon as possible! I know that projects and last minute quizzes are all you can probably think about right now, but in your free time do your best to review your notes from the beginning of the semester. It’s so easy to forget things (especially if your finals are cumulative!), so trying to jog your memory regularly is a really good idea.
2. Know where you stand before finals week
Before going to talk to your professor, do your best to calculate your grade and what you need on the final to get your desired grade. Keeping your final grade in perspective will help you cater the conversation with your professor towards what you need as well as prioritize your exams.
For example, if you need a 90% in order to get an A in your Biology class but only a 65% in your Stats class, it might be wise to start studying for Bio right away and let Stats sit for a little bit. Since finals season can become a bit overwhelming sometimes, breaking down your study schedule into bite-sized chunks by level of importance can be a life saver!
3. Planning = survival
Here we go again! I know you’re going to say I’m a planning freak, and I’m not ashamed of it one bit. My first two rounds of finals during college were absolutely awful (I was a train wreck), and I blame it all on the fact that I didn’t plan out my study schedule.
Guys, let’s be real – you cannot start studying the night before a final and expect to get an A. It’s just not gonna happen, no matter how much faith you have in yourself. Finals are a ton of content, and the best way to make sure you: 1. Remember it all for the exam and 2. Can actually recall it later on in life, is to take your time.
As you probably know, all lessons are not created equal – knowing the Krebs cycle is definitely significantly easier than remembering every bone in the human body, and you need to be aware of that when you’re planning your study sessions. Once you’ve talked to your professor about what’s going to be on the test, make a list of all of the topics and an estimate of how long it’ll take for you to cover them. That way, you can adequately prep yourself for what you’ll be covering and when.
I don’t know about you guys, but plans & lists make me feel like a weight is lifted off of my shoulders, so this is definitely my holy grail tip.
4. Talk to your friends
Keep in mind also that you aren’t alone! Every single one of your college friends is going through the exact same situation as you, so lean on them in the tough times.
For math classes in particular, I like to create study groups with friends that have a similar work ethic in order to study. Now, group study sessions aren’t for everyone, but I think that in problem-based courses it’s smart to work through practice problems together and compare answers. If you do a problem wrong, you don’t have to hunt down your teacher for an answer – you can ask a friend! That gives them the opportunity to test their own knowledge, and you’re also getting a ton out of it.
Additionally, make time to hang out with your friends before finals kick in – this is something I’m making a point to do. Now is the perfect time to catch up with the college friends you’ve kind of lost touch with due to lack of similar classes, because after finals everything is going to be absolutely crazy with the holidays. On the topic of hanging out…
5. Rest up & decompress
Finally, the best way to prepare for finals week is to get as much sleep as you possibly can. A lot of people tell you not to pull all-nighters during the week of your exams, and while that is probably good advice, late nights be inevitable sometimes. As a result, getting in beauty rest right now will help you feel charged enough to make it through those cram sessions later on.
I also think that this is the perfect time to indulge in the fun things as your classes are winding down – go see that movie you’ve been holding off on watching, watch a few YouTube videos, or even go online shopping. You deserve to treat yo’ self for getting through an entire semester, and this is the best time to do it.
If you are looking for even more finals advice, check out Living in Full Bloom’s Finals Roundup Post – it’s full of great tips from amazing bloggers (you might see a familiar face, wink wink), and you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love.
More than anything, I’m doing my best to remember that just over this mountain of finals work is the Christmas season and quality family time! Yes, finals are a really stressful time, but they also signify the end of a great semester, and you should get excited for them to be over and done with.