Five tips for surviving finals

December 4, 2009


There’s a certain feeling on campus this time of the year—a distinct combination of stress, exhaustion, hunger, and a dismal hope it will all be over soon. Many students are inclined to put their lives on hold to prepare for finals and during finals week, but the thing is, continuing normal habits (while studying like crazy) is the best way to get through the rest of the semester. Here are five steps to help you get through the hardest week of your college career.

Eat healthy

Food is your mind’s fuel, and there’s no time more important than finals to give it the right kind of fuel. Many students swear by coffee and energy drinks during finals; these are okay in moderation, but they shouldn’t be your main source of energy. By using fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein as your fuel, you will feel and perform your best.

It’s important to eat healthy during finals because no one wants to start winter break sick. – Jeremy Gelman, senior

Take breaks

When you’re studying for finals, it seems like every minute counts. That’s exactly why you have to use your time wisely and take breaks when studying. Every hour, take a 15-minute break to eat a snack, stretch, go outside, or do a little Facebooking. Any activity that allows you to relax will do. Giving your mind time to reenergize will get you back to studying with a fresh mind and renewed drive to get through the next hour.

Facebook is a good break, however, make sure you set a time limit or else you’ll quickly get wrapped up in the latest and greatest gossip. – Kimi Mirabal, junior

Stay active

As soon as finals roll around, the first thing most students sacrifice is working out. But as hard as it sounds, keeping active is important for many reasons. Working out relieves stress, clears your head, and forces you to put down the books. Hours of studying is exhausting, and a work out will definitely get your energy back up. We can all spare at least a half hour out of our busy lives to hit the rec center—and good news; it’s only a few minutes from the library.

It’s important to stay active in order to reduce your stress. So take a break, pick your favorite activity, and go enjoy yourself for a while. – Julia Ratcliff, junior

Sleep enough

And no, two hours is not enough sleep to function for finals. No matter how much you study, getting inadequate sleep will keep you from retaining the information and end up wasting your time. Use that time to maintain the amount of sleep you need each night, even if it means cutting the studying short. Some people need five or six hours; others need eight or nine. Figure out how much sleep you need to stay focused, and make it a priority.

Some students believe that depriving themselves of sleep and cramming the night before will lead to better grades. This is not true. It’s actually a fact that after a certain point of sleep deprivation your mind can no longer retain information. Take it from me… you need to sleep during finals! – Sean Planchard, junior

Time management

It might seem like common sense, but managing your time so that you’re not slamming before a huge final or 20-page paper is due will make a huge difference. We’ve all pulled the all-nighter—but the thing is, most of those nights don’t end well. Either the five chapters you read at 3:00 a.m. just didn’t sink in, or those last five pages of your paper don’t make any sense. So try to study a little bit every day, and finish the semester off right.

It’s really easy to just shut down when you feel tasks stacking up, but it’s really important to just sit down, take a breath, and prioritize. – Jocelyn Durocher, junior

To be honest, even after two years of college, it really is hard to follow these tips. The most important thing about finals is to treat yourself well, which is a little different for everyone. But following these five steps is a great foundation to start from. Also, using finals as an excuse to take any kind of illegal drugs or drugs not prescribed for you is lame—just don’t do it. Not to mention, it could be incredibly dangerous to your mind and body, and no final is worth that. It’s a hard week; but remember, it is only one week in your life. Work hard so you can play hard later. —Maggie Schoonmaker, Junior, School of Journalism and Mass Communication