Finals Survival

Finals Survival

12/2/10 James Winston

Study skills & stress management for college student exam week

Ack, exams are coming! With midterms and final exams, students have two goals. First, you want to ace the exams, or at least get decent grades and do as well as possible. Second, there’s your sanity; you want to get through exams with a minimum of stress and test anxiety.

Fortunately, with the right study skills techniques, you can both manage your stress and do well on the tests. Here are some study skills tips for final exams to help you do well and stay sane.

  • Time management. Plan, plan, plan. Before finals begin, get out your calendar and schedule as much of your finals week as possible. Then stick with the schedule. (Here are some more time management tips for students.)
  • Schedule in study breaks. Don’t plan to study non-stop for the next five days. You’ll go insane, and you’ll be too fried to do well on the exams. When you write your schedule, include short study breaks to help you recharge. You’ll feel so much better and will be able to concentrate so much more. (Here’s some suggestions for great study breaks.)
  • Take advantage of study sheets and study sessions. Just be careful not to use these as crutches. They’re not supposed to replace studying. (Here’s more about study guides and review sessions.)
  • Schedule in sleep. Some people can function well on three hours of sleep a night. Most cannot. You’ll do much better during exams if your mental state is good, and sleep is essential for this.
  • Exercise. There’s no better source for stress relief. Just don’t overdo it to the point that you’re heavily procrastinating. Go for short, stress-relieving activities, like racquetball or a treadmill run. And don’t underestimate the value of a brisk walk.
  • Prioritize. You have limited time to study and will have to choose what to spend the most time with. You could spend hours and hours on that math exam because if you do really well, you might be able to pull off a C. Or you can spend hours and hours on a history exam because if you do well, you’ve got a good shot at an A. It’s up to you.
  • Form effective study groups. Just don’t waste your time with lousy ones. (Here are some tips for effective study groups.)
  • Free your schedule. As much as possible, eliminate other responsibilities. Work fewer hours. Put off social events. Definitely put off shopping.
  • Ask your professor for help. If you’re confused about your notes or the readings, go to the resident expert. This works much better if you don’t put off studying until the last minute. It’s a good idea to read through all of your notes before you start to study, so that you can inquire early about things that confuse you.
  • Take a mental break so you don’t break down. Your campus is creating ways to “let off steam” and have some fun. Take advantage of these opportunities to connect with friends and get some physical activity. You’ll feel better and be ready to hit the books after a complete break from studying.
  • Keep things in perspective. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t do well on this test? Excessive stress will make you crazy and hurt your performance on tests, so as much as you can, relax. And if you’re having serious problems with anxiety during final exams, seek help at your school’s counseling center. This is a common problem that schools are well equipped to help you with

If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious about finals, help is available through Centerstone Solutions, your student assistance program (SAP). These services are sponsored by IUPUC. They are free, strictly confidential and easy to access.

Contact your Centerstone Solutions. For an appointment or simply to get more information, just call 1-800-766-0068. Or look for us on Facebook.

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