Published: April 13, 2020
Student studying alone on campus

While the thought of finals may feel overwhelming on top of the current COVID-19 situation, you can set yourself up for success with the right strategies. Here are some tips to help you finish this semester strong.

Get organized

Since campus has moved to remote learning, deadlines and project submissions may have changed. Look at your syllabi and verify with your professors exam dates, times and any additional information you might need to be prepared. This will help you become familiar with your workload leading up to finals. Use a calendar or planner to map out exam dates, times and any necessary study sessions.

Prioritize your projects, papers, labs and exams based on deadlines. Make projects and studying more manageable by breaking them down into smaller steps. Write down each individual task in your planner on the dates you will do them in order to stay on track.

Plan a strategy

As you get organized, consider what successful studying looks like for you:

  • Do you concentrate best when there’s complete silence or some background noise?
  • Are you more mentally sharp at a certain point in the day (early mornings or evenings)?
  • Are you more of a visual learner or do you learn best by reading/writing?
  • Is it helpful to study virtually with a friend or two, or do you study best on your own?

As we follow the stay-at-home and social distancing orders, finding a study spot outside of the house is not a viable option. If you are living with roommates or other family members, make a study schedule and talk with them about  designated “quiet time” leading up to and during finals week. Knowing how you study and communicating with others in your household about what you need can help you feel prepared for finals.

Resources for managing stress

SilverCloud online health program
Take charge and manage your emotional health and well-being with SilverCloud Health, an online tool that provides personalized programs to help build skills around stress management, anxiety and depression.

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)
CAPS offers virtual walk-in and individual counseling appointments for undergrad and graduate students. Workshops and groups will also be available soon. Please call 303-492-2277 to make an appointment or connect with a counselor.

CAPS counselors can help provide insight, solutions and information about additional resources. Students commonly visit with concerns about stress, sadness, worry, relationships, academic performance, family problems and financial struggles. 

Take breaks

It can be tempting to pull an all-nighter to get things done, but this can be more harmful than helpful in the end since sleep is so vital for memory. Take short breaks during study sessions (five-minute break for every 25 minutes of studying) to give your brain a rest. You can take a quick walk (stay at least 6 feet away from others and wear a cloth facemask), stretch or watch a funny video.

Staying hydrated and eating regular meals and snacks are also important for maintaining energy and focus.

Avoid cutting corners

Even though it’s crunch time, avoid cutting corners with your work. Failing to properly cite a source or asking a friend to help out with your work (even if it is virtually) may not seem like a big deal in the moment. But these actions and any form of academic dishonesty are a violation of the Honor Code and can have consequences.

Academic dishonesty is any act in which a student gains or attempts to gain an unfair academic advantage over other students. Examples of this include plagiarism and cheating. All CU Boulder students are subject to the Honor Code for academic matters, and students who violate the code may be subject to discipline.

Learn more about how to avoid the top violations of the Honor Code.

Ask for help

There’s still time to ask for help if you are struggling with an assignment or subject.

  • Take advantage of free academic resources, such as the Writing Center and University Libraries.
    • The Writing Center will continue to work remotely. You can schedule a one-hour appointment online
    • The University Libraries also provide remote and virtual services. For assistance to remote access, research resources or to talk to a librarian, check out their main page to get help.
  • Free tutoring in all subjects is available to students living in the residence halls and Bear Creek, as well as first-year commuter students through the Academic Success & Achievement Program. Sessions are now held via Zoom, through their app Penji.
  • Email faculty in advance during their office hours to ask questions before a final exam or project due date.

Even though times are strange, you can still set yourself up for success. Prioritize what is important, prepare yourself and take it one exam at a time. Test out your internet connection ahead of time, take a deep breath and finish strong!