You may be looking at your exam calendar and feeling overwhelmed by all of the tests lined up. So take a step back and organize yourself to tackle exam week head-on. If you jump in too fast without a plan, you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed.
First, take inventory of everything you need to do. List out any projects, final homework assignments, and exam dates. If the project is really large or there’s a lot of new material on the exam, break these down into multiple items.
Once you have a list of everything that needs to get done, map out the days leading up to finals. Figure out where each task needs to go and give yourself some breathing room. Then, stick to your plan and knock off items one by one.
Eat healthy snacks.
You’re going to be busy and have a lot of academics on your mind. So plan your meals ahead of time or else that decision may stress you out further. And when we’re stressed out, people are known to make worse decisions and retain less information.
We recommend stocking up on some healthy snacks and planning out each meal. Prepacked sandwiches from the grocery store or corner store on campus are a good option because they’re quick and healthier than an impulse candy bar. For snacks, have a few pieces of fruit handy and a bag of trail mix. It’s better to snack on those rather than junk food.
Don’t try to cram everything in last minute or overwork yourself. In fact, you’ll probably perform worse if you do. Instead, take regular breaks and attempt to keep some balance in your schedule. Try to keep in touch with friends, hit the gym, take naps, and talk to family. Skipping normal activities may make you feel out of whack.
For one tip, try the Pomodoro method. This process sets a timer for 25 minutes where you are meant to focus on one task. Put your phone on airplane or do not disturb mode, and turn off any distractions. After this focused period, take a short break. Hit the bathroom, grab a snack, or make a phone call. Many people report that this cycle increases their productivity.
Our bodies have a strong physiological connection. If you lock yourself in the library for days on end, you’re not going to feel great physically. When you don’t feel great, it can reduce your optimism, confidence, and overall performance.
After a long study session, it can be a good idea to hit the gym. Plus, a thorough sweat session will refresh you and renew your energy, so you can hit the books again. Check out this study on the Harvard Health Blog.
See the Health & Wellness section of our FSU student resources post for some on-campus options.
Yes, sleep is important! All-nighters may seem like you’re working hard, but typically, your memory and retention of what you study drops like a rock to the point that it’s actually more effective to sleep and then study when you’re refreshed in the morning. Plus, an all-nighter will throw off your sleep schedule and impact your performance for days to come!
Choose a great study area.
We love picking an inspirational study spot. Sometimes, that’s being in the library and surrounded by dozens of other students hard at work. Being around others who are working hard makes us want to work hard. Other times, it’s choosing a nook in our favorite coffee shop when we have a number of chapters to read. And then other times, we need to be alone to really focus and concentrate on new material.
Check in with yourself and choose a spot that will help you be most effective.
Study with friends.
Instead of stressing yourself out alone on all the work you need to do, grab a big table in the library with a group of friends or go on a coffee break together. You may be stuck on a topic that someone else has figured out, or someone may have a mnemonic study tip that ends up saving you tons of time.
Don’t hole yourself up in one spot for too long. Use exams as a reason to connect and work with other students, and you’ll enjoy the process more.
At the end of the day, one grade is not likely to make or break you. Grades are important, but not the end of the world. Many students have been in your shoes in the past and made it through OK. You can always retake a class or talk to the professor.