It’s that time.  Finals.  End of the semester.  Pass or fail.  STRESS.

Students across the country are dealing with the most demanding part of any semester.  Papers, projects, last-minute revisions, and exams.  This usually means late nights, extra caffeine and sugar, and little sleep.  All in an effort to store a semester’s worth of knowledge into short-term memory and attempt to retrieve the exact right information at the right moment during an exam.  I’m exhausted just writing this ridiculous strategy in a long run-on sentence.

There is a better way.  The best way, of course, is to begin weeks before finals begin.  If you find yourself running out of time, here are a few strategies to help you focus, manage your stress, and perform to the best of your abilities with the time you have now.

Create a Schedule:  One of the most important things to do is create a daily schedule with blocked time and stick to it.  Chunk the work down into manageable bite-sized pieces so you have a chance to get everything in.  One of the biggest mistakes I see students make is to focus all their energy on one class and run out of time and energy to focus on the other four.  Set reminders to switch to a different class, or chapter, or task.  Don’t sacrifice your good grades by only studying for your most challenging class.

Form a Study Group:  Studying with other people can be a terrific strategy, especially in classes where you may be struggling.  There is usually someone in the group who understands a concept better than others or someone who just explains it in a way that makes sense to you.  It’s also more fun to study with people.  The caveat is that your group is studying and not just socializing.  If you have a disciplined group of friends who are committed to doing well on their exam, go for it.

Take Short Breaks Often:  It’s important to take breaks every couple of hours to get a (healthy) snack, move around, stretch, and clear the mind.  Planning breaks with others to blow off some steam is a game-changer.  Make sure you set a timer for 15-20 minutes, so you can jump right back in and get on task.  Frequent and controlled breaks are key.

Breathe:  Taking a few deep breaths any time you feel stressed, tired, or overwhelmed is a simple yet invaluable skill to master.  Take a deep Breath in for 4 seconds, hold at the top for 4, exhale for 4, and hold at the bottom for 4.  Repeat 3 times and feel the calm settling in.  Try this right before your final and feel the difference in your performance.

Sleep:  All-nighters don’t work.  Take it from someone who once fell asleep during her final.  Seriously, go to sleep.  Getting a good 7-8 hours of rest will do more than trying to cram last-minute knowledge into your tired brain.  You are more likely to retrieve the info you stuffed into your head after a full night’s sleep.

Now you are ready to tackle Finals Week. Crush it!

Investing in your college student’s well-being and success now can pay off in the long run.
By helping them address any challenges or issues early on, you can set them up for a successful college experience and a bright future.