Finals Week: Tips for Making it Through Exams

Well it has arrived. The dreaded home stretch of the semester where you have officially moved in to the library, your caffeine intake is at a concerning all time high, and you are on the verge of a breakdown.

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Only two weeks stand between you and freedom from academic responsibility, yet it feels like an eternity.  Until then, the only thoughts your brain can process are term definitions and APA formatting guidelines.

Although it may seem like stress and anxiety are inevitable during this time in the semester, here are a few tips to follow during finals to help you keep your sanity through the final exam period:

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  1. Plan out your study schedule:4

By assigning separate slots of time for your exam studying and essay deadlines,  you can feel like your life is less of a whirlwind, and devote your attention to one thing at a time. You can check your to-dos off as you go, and maybe even start to feel less weight on your shoulders as the list gets smaller and smaller.

2. Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb”:

The last thing you need to break your focus and send you down a deeper hole of procrastination is the distraction of Twitter threads and group Snapchats. The virtual world won’t forget about you if you go M.I.A. for a few days, and keeping your phone on “Do Not Disturb” will make your notifications unnoticeable, which will make it less tempting to distract yourself from your work.

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3. Reward yourself:

Even though minimizing non-school related distractions during final exams is important, keeping your sanity is essential. In order to do this, taking breaks is crucial to make sure that you don’t burn yourself out. Set studying goals, and once you achieve them, do something like go to the beach for an hour or go out and have dinner with a friend, because you have earned the right to pick your head up out of a book for at least a little while.

4. Make time for sleep:

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Okay, I know this tip seems virtually impossible when you are timing out your day by the minute, and there is physically no second to spare that you are not studying. But, you HAVE to make time for this. Even if its not the full 8-10 recommended hours, making sleep a priority is crucial if you want a functioning brain. Skip the cup of coffee that you are about to pour at 1:00 am, and make peace with yourself that a few hours of snooze will refresh you enough to input more information in the morning.
I know that it seems like your life seems like Hell on Earth right now, but I can assure you that all of your hard work is going to pay off. Follow these tips, just keep breathing, and open your eyes to see the light beaming ahead at the end of the tunnel!

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-Jordan Flaherty

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29 thoughts on “Finals Week: Tips for Making it Through Exams

  1. Wow, great timing! I’m in the middle of doing homework, studying for exams, and freaking about how I’ll have time to finish everything. This blog made me realize that I should be taking care of myself and allow times for breaks. I’m all abut making a study schedule as well, but sometimes it gets hectic even with it all planned out, because, not everything goes accordingly (like new, last-minute assignments professors decide to hand out :’)). This was a breath of fresh air!

  2. I love your suggestions for how to get through finals week. Sleep is one important aspect that I tenf to lack on – as I type this at 6am when I haven’t slept yet. I also love the lighthearted gifs. The funny posts and memes I see during finals really helps me make it through.

  3. Very interesting and helpful post Jordan with finals week fast approaching! I agree with the points you made, especially about keeping your phone on do not disturb. For me personally, I find my phone a huge distraction when I have notifications going off and so by setting by phone on do not disturb I am able to focus on my studies more. I also find your other tips very helpful too!

  4. Being an international student, this is my first final exam experience in the states. And I get my people are so stressed about it. In the Netherlands we have a reading week, a week of before exams. Moreover, our exams are spread over 2 weeks. Now I have class till Thursday, deadlines of assignments until Friday and my exams start on Monday. In addition, I have an exam every day untill thursday. Your tips were very helpful to cope with the stress. However, I believe that for the students stake and the grade average it would be better if uncw changed their policy regarding the final exams. In my opinion, results will be better en information will last longer if the exams are spread more over 2 weeks. Because then students actually have the time to study the material instead of pulling an all nighter and then forgetting the almost immediately after the exam what you have studied. I hope that with these tips I can survive finals week in the states!

  5. This is a great post!! Finals are such a stressful time for all students and sometimes we forget to slow down and take time for ourselves and get some sleep. These are some great tips that can help students study but also reminds us to keep organized and not just focus on learning and studying the material, but also to mentally prepare for the exams in our own ways!

  6. This was the most relatable blog post ever! every point was cleverly written in a manner in which I have personally experienced.

  7. Hi Jordan! This post was so fun to read. A lot of it has to do with the funny gifs, I love those. Your use of specific examples like, “term definitions and APA formatting guideline,” made your post very relatable, since I think we’ve all been there before! These tips are so helpful, too, and it’ll help us avoid procrastination and maybe even relax a little. Great post!

  8. Amen! Crunch time is real right now, and every bit of my being wants nothing more than to be done with the semester and jump on Xbox for the rest of the day. I just want to say thanks for reinforcing the “take it one assignment at a time” strategy. I (like plenty others, I’m sure) tend to look at my list of things to do and let it overwhelm me to the point where I spend the time I ought to use to get an assignment done, worrying instead about said assignment. Also, sleep is VERY important! My doctor literally told me yesterday that you can’t “make up” sleep. Sleeping four hours one night and twelve the next apparently doesn’t do anything for you…so definitely get your beauty rest!

  9. This post was super helpful! I feel setting times for different assignments or study session is probably the most helpful time. In past years I have simply just got to Randall at the beginning of the day and leave feeling I didn’t dedicate enough time to certain subjects. There have also been times I’ve tried to cram various assignment or study sessions into a single day rather than spanning out beforehand and I end up leaving with completed work but completed without my best material because I tried to finish them all at once. The planning ahead definitely can help students!

  10. This is a perfect analysis on what it is like to be a college student during finals week! Also great tips to make it through without completely losing your sanity.

  11. Good article! I agree with number 1 100%! Back when I was younger my number one screw up was that I was always forgetful and I would either forget to check an assignment or tell myself one minute, not write it down, and still completely forget. Now that I am older I actually bought a daily planner which I have been using here and there and I even try to put it in my phone as much as possible. Getting sleep is also very important and goes along with planning out your schedule as I feel most students will procrastinate until the last minute and pull an all nighter and then the next thing you know they still didn’t retain any information because they didn’t get any sleep!

  12. Thanks for these tips! Returning from Thanksgiving break definitely made it hard to get back into the groove of things.

  13. Love this post! what a fun way to give advice. I love the GIFs and simple steps that we all so easily forget. I like that you don’t shy away from telling the truth, sleep is so extremely important, but no one wants to hear that exam week. Thanks for all the tips and tricks.

  14. Seeing that finals week is quickly approaching this article was a much needed reminder of some useful ways to help prepare!
    I really liked your point of putting you phone on a setting where you wont be bothered because for me, my phone is both a distraction and a way for me to procrastinate. So in order to get things done I usually have to put it away.
    I also think rewarding yourself during such a stressful week is crucial!

  15. Thank you for this! I’m constantly forgetting or abusing the reward yourself and make time for sleep parts. This was a good reminder that there’s a proper balance for both of these things, good luck on your finals as well!

  16. I love the memes that you used in this post. You definitely made the information relatable and doable. My big problem when I study is that I reward myself too well or I just reward myself with sleep and food. Two different ends of the spectrum, I know! But finals is all about making us crazy, right?

  17. First and foremost, I loved reading your article! Since I’m a huge planner nerd, I can attest to the fact that making a study schedule is ultra important. I also agree with both the “Reward yourself'” and “Make time for sleep” tips, as I use these too. I don’t know how others can work on little sleep, I need at least 6 hours every night to function. Lastly, while I’ve never put my phone on “Do not disturb” for finals week, I think I might this weekend! We college students are no strangers to the distractions that our phones bring, so I’m happy to have been informed of this helpful reminder!

  18. I’m reading this post at the picture time! LDOC is both the best and worst day of the semester. However, I think the little tips listed are going to really be helpful going into this next week. Especially planning to sleep. It’s something college students tend to overlook so often that having t be it’s own tip is probably for the best. Great post and I’ll definitely be coming back to it in the next week. Fingers crossed fr everyone undertaking finals!

  19. I found all of these tips to be helpful, and definitely important while studying! The best tip was to put your phone on do not disturb, because having a phone is a huge distraction, and its important to give studying your undivided attention. Also sleep is very important, because a good nights rest can do wonders to your body and mind!

  20. The most important step to me would be #1. I made the mistake of not planning my study schedule my freshman year and my grades proved it. Planning ahead is a key element in being successful at whatever it is you pursue. When you plan ahead to study, you can make sure you hit everything that you need to review. If you do not plan to study, you get off track on one assignment and forget about other assignments and then you are in a scramble. Safe yourself the stress and plan ahead!

  21. great advice! I always struggle with balancing my time and duties during finals week. I’m going to follow these guidelines and hope they help thanks!

  22. I feel like all these rules are stuff we seem to so easily forget during exam week, but they’re also very important. I have used the reward yourself a bit already – turning in some huge assignments. Can’t wait for exams to be over with!!!

  23. After reading this I think I just may make it through! I manage retail full time and having this week coincide with Black Friday traffic has been insane! A few days with literally 0 hours of sleep 3 papers and 1 final down already, and I think I may be able to breathe again soon! Or at least remember how to spell my own name!

  24. Simply reading your tips on how to tackle finals week was pleasantly helpful. I need to always focus on getting sleep, and one can never be reminded to sleep too often. This list was very much appreciated and the timing is perfect.

  25. I gravitated to your post because finals are here and I can relate to every single gif you incorporated in this! I believe the most important tip is to get enough sleep. During finals it is easy to down another cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning as you mentioned and power through another all nighter. As a student who has repeatedly done this, I discourage it too. It’s not healthy. I appreciate your closing remarks! These tips are excellent and encourage students to have somewhat of a game plan for studying and sleeping.

  26. As someone who is currently working on finals in the library, I can relate very much to this article! The tips listed above may seem a little obvious at first, but are great reminders of how we can maximize the time we have to study. I believe rewarding yourself every hour or so by taking a 5 minute break is extremely helpful because I found that your mind feels refreshed and ready to learn again after a break. I also liked the idea of turning your phone on do not disturb. As someone who is always checking their phone when I study, I know this can be a challenging habit to break.

  27. Studying is very important, however, if you are lacking in sleep then you studying is doing nothing. You need a good sleep and a good meal to help you study more efficiently.

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