Finals week can be a stressful time, even if you’re doing well in school. With such a high percentage of your grade on the line, it can feel like all of the work you’ve done up to this point isn’t as important as the test that you’re about to take.
Simply put, feeling stressed will not make you do any better on your finals. It puts your brain into “fight or flight” mode, and this can actually stop the critical thinking parts of your brain from functioning well.
If you feel yourself getting nervous as finals approach, you’re not alone. I want to pass on some ways that you can use to help keep yourself calm on your last days before Christmas break.
1. Get studying before finals week
I remember a lot of students who knew their material well but still managed to freak out when finals week rolled around. If this is you and every test has been a breeze this semester, feel free to ignore this tip.
For the rest of you, understand this: If you’ve been neglecting to study all semester, cramming the night before your final will not magically help you get a good grade. If your textbooks have remained closed for the past three months, crack them open today! You will not be able to learn and assimilate a semester’s worth of material in a few short hours the night before your big test.
2. Meditate daily
The most common way to meditate is to simply close your eyes and try to clear your mind of thoughts. If you’re new to meditation you’ll find this almost impossible, but that’s OK!
When you’re spending all day cramming facts into your head, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed with all the information. Taking a few minutes per day to actively clear your mind can help.
Just one more note: Thoughts will continue to “pop” into your mind, even when you try to avoid thinking about anything. This is totally OK. It’s the exercise of trying to focus on your breath and keep your mind from wandering that makes the difference.
3. Study with friends
I need to admit something here. If you and your friends are very close, it’s easy to forget that you met up to study and not to just “hang out.” A five-hour “study session” has the potential to turn into a five-hour chat about life, sports, etc.
If you’re able to focus, however, studying with friends can be a great improvement over sitting alone with a textbook. You can quiz each other on the material and help each other understand confusing material.
4. Talk with your teachers
If you’re really stressed about a particular final, letting your teachers know is probably a good idea. Teachers design the tests to be challenging, but they want you to do well on them. Because of this, they’re likely to give you tips about what’s important to study and what’s not as critical.
This can save you a ton of time studying irrelevant material, and your teacher will probably be more ready to give you the benefit of the doubt because you asked for help early on.