Finals week is stressful, and it may be even more stressful this semester as we take finals remotely. Below are some tips from Rowan CHASE Lab to help you stay healthy, manage stress, and finish the semester strong.
DO these things:
- Make a plan for studying so that you can prioritize effectively. Take into consideration that some finals will be earlier in the week than others, and some will require you to devote more time.
- Take breaks! Overworking is the best way to get burnt out, so plan a 15- minute break after every hour. At the end of each day, plan a slightly longer break as a reward for hard work. Breaks can include walks outside, coloring, crocheting, or any other activity that lets your brain rest for a few minutes.
- Get extra sleep. Research shows that memories are consolidated and integrated during sleep, and fewer hours lead to worse academic performance.
- Try to recall what you have learned as you study – real-world examples, how to apply concepts in new situations, etc. This will be more useful than attempting to memorize all of the course material. Your professors care more about learning!
- Create your own study guides. Research shows that generating your own study instead of using your professors’ allows you to engage with the material more.
- Quiz yourself. Prompting yourself to recall the information in a manner similar to the exam will you help you prepare.
- Work with others virtually. Seek out students in your classes who are motivated and doing well – check class discussion boards and/or post a thread about virtual study sessions (Google Hangouts, Facetime, etc.). Quiz each other, support each other, pool resources. If you can explain challenging material effectively to someone who is not in your class, you can be confident that you know it well. Everyone wins.
- Drink LOTS of water. Staying hydrated will reduce discomfort and distraction. (One of our team members goes without coffee for the whole week! He swears that he feels just as energized with water.)
- Plan meals ahead of time. Stock your room/apartment with healthy food, bring meals and snacks with you when you study, or have a plan for where to access healthy options near your study location. Without a plan, it’s easy to get stuck with junk food options that won’t give you the energy you need to power through and perform well.
- Spread out your unpacking over the week. If you moved off campus, unpacking offers a productive break from studying.
- Take off from work. If you are still working during this time, and can afford to schedule a week off from your job, this will free you up to focus on studying and reduce your stress level.
- Plan a way to reward yourself for your hard work. An evening in video chatting with friends, ordering a big item you’ve been waiting to splurge on, diving into that new show you’ve been waiting to start…
DON’T do these things:
- Start a new series on Netflix this week. You will get addicted and not study. Use a new series as a reward at the end of the week!
- Skip meals, or skip exercise, to study. Research shows that giving yourself a short break and engaging with social support and/or physical activity is best for performance. But make sure you’re doing it virtually, or from the safety of your home!
- Forget about professors’ office hours. Make a list of questions for review, and set up an online WebEx meeting with your professor.
- Overdo it on coffee and/or energy drinks. Energy drinks in particular will disrupt your sleep and result in worse performance.
- Study in your bed. WAY too tempting to lie down, which makes it easy to fall asleep and lose valuable study time. Make your bed and study sitting up (if you have to study in bed) to limit the temptation. (This will also make it easier to fall asleep in bed at night.)
- Plan on studying during breaks between exams. Something always comes up, and you may simply be too exhausted to study during short breaks.
- Neglect your personal hygiene. Taking care of yourself is just as important as acing your exams!
- Ask your professors the day before what is on the final – they will not be happy, and they’re not likely to be able to get back to you in time.
- Leave studying for the night before a final. You’ll perform better if you review a little bit each day for a few days before.
- Drink alcohol the night before a final. Enough said.
Share your tips with us at @RowanCHASELab on Twitter!