Hi guys! If you are a student like me, then you know that finals week is approaching quickly. I’m going to share some tips on how to prepare for exams and maintain your sanity during this crazy time of the year. Sometimes I feel like this type of posts are more of a pep talk for myself, but I hope you’ll find something useful!
Note: I was a science major in college so whatever I say probably applies to science courses more than humanities courses.
- Start early! I really mean it. Start studying at least 2 weeks before your exam to allow enough time to go through all the material. I know it’s really hard to start studying for the final exam while you still have other assignments due. But start small by spending 15 minutes per night reviewing and then gradually increase that amount of time as it gets closer to the exam.
- For concepts that you have to memorize, write them all out (by hand if possible) and study them everyday before the exam. I usually write out a long version first, and then create a condensed version to pinpoint all the crucial points.
- For classes that you have to solve problems (such as genetics, chemistry, physics, math), learn the concepts first, identify different types of problems, do practice problems, and summarize how you should approach each type of problems. Make a list of the step-by-step procedure if the material isn’t too theoretical.
- Do practice exams and time yourself! Unfortunately, not all professors are willing to provide those….
Take Care of Your Body:
- Eat healthy, snack often. I don’t know about you, but I get hungry really easily when I study! My favorite snacks while studying are: Greek yogurt with granola and nuts, mixed fruit bowl (I suggest chopping up the fruit right after a meal and put them in a Tupperware. Trust me, if you are too lazy to chop/peel fruit when you are full, you won’t do it when you are hungry.), chips & guac, and dark chocolate (can’t live without my dark chocolate :P).
- Get some rest. I know it’s much easier said than done but make sleep a priority. Sleep at least 6 hours per night. Being well rested makes studying easier.
- Stay (somewhat) physically active. Time is tight but try to exercise/play sports twice a week and take walks on the other days.
- Drink lots of water, don’t drink too much coffee. Although I love my daily cup of coffee, I usually can’t stand the taste of coffee during finals week because I’m so tired of the taste. I like to drink green tea when I’m stressed because I find it to be very calming. I normally just use whole leaf green tea and add some honey in there.
- Use a sheet mask 1-2 times a week. Stress is a major cause of dull skin. Sheet masks are easy to put on and remove. Plus you can keep doing your work while you have the mask on.
- It’s natural to get overwhelmed but don’t stress too much. Breakdown your larger tasks into smaller bits and you’ll get more done than you expect. I love making lists so I depend on my Todoist app to keep me on top of things.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slack off for a little bit. Just pick yourself up and focus on your work afterwards. Get rid of distractions such as electronics. It’s too bad that the SelfControl app doesn’t work in OS X Mavericks. Now I gotta exercise real self-control :P
- Change your study/work environment so you don’t get too comfortable. For example, rotate between studying at the library, coffee shop, your desk, dining table, etc.
- Listen to instrumental music. I’ve been really enjoying the Study Music Project, created by a current medical student. You can listen to his music here on his YouTube channel.
- If you are soooo stressed that you feel like you are on the verge of a mental breakdown, stop what you are doing and take a break! Spend an hour watching TV, reading, drawing, baking, napping, or whatever that helps you to relax. Sometimes you need to get your mind off your work so you can approach it with a new attitude later.
- Resist the urge to online shop. I have this bad habit of really wanting to online shop whenever I’m stressed out, but I end up regretting most of those purchases. To deal with this, I have 2 solutions: 1) create a Pinterest board of the things you want instead of actually buying them, 2) write down “I saved $____ today by practicing self-control” on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. I know they are kinda silly but they work!
Phew, you finally reached the end of the post! I wish you all the best of luck with your final exams! Hang in there!