December 7, 2016

How to Survive Finals: A Step by Step Guide

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While December may be “the most wonderful time of the year” for some, every college student knows that it is certainly the most stressful. With the impending doom created as a result of term projects and final exams, these last few weeks of the school year may seem impossible to get through. This is my seventh semester in college, so by now, I’d like to think that I’ve got a *slight* handle on the end of the semester… which is why I’ve compiled a list of all everything you need to power through!

1. Make a Plan & Set Goals

What do you need to get done? What is due first? Which things are you most/least prepared for? Saying things like “my art history exam is next Tuesday, so I want to get all my flashcards done this Saturday,” can help use your time efficiently and avoid procrastination.

2. Caffeinate

This one is just a given.

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3. Ditch the Social Media

It’ll be there after the exams, and frankly just isn’t worth the distraction.

4. Strategic Music Listening

I like to listen to the same music (artist, playlist, genre, etc.) when studying a certain subject— when I hear it, it helps me remember the material. Employing your senses with your studying can pay off— things like chewing a stick of spearmint gum every time you study for calculus can help you retain information better, especially if it’s something that you can recreate during the exam.

5. Take a Break

Getting up to exercise in between study sessions help keep your blood flowing. If you’re on campus, head over to WAM and take in some art for a half hour. Studies show looking at art can decrease your stress levels and stimulate creativity and memory. While you’re here pick up a free hand-bound WAM Collective Toolkit featuring coloring sheets, de-stressing recipes, yoga sequences and more resources to help you get through the next week!

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6. Eat a Snack

As you’re busy running around to print papers and buckle down in the library, don’t forget to eat! Never leave the house without your go-to study snacks. I like things with protein to keep me feeling full longer (aka an excuse to slather everything in peanut butter).

7. Put self-care first

Sleep is important— it’s how your brain retains information! And although it’s hard, try to get the amount of social time you need— this is a big one for me. I study best when I’m alone, but not talking to anyone all day can be draining, so on my busiest study days, I try to plan a meal with a few friends to destress.

8. Don’t Fry Your Brain

Try to avoid studying the same thing for hours! Try working on one subject for a few hours, then switching over to something else so you don’t burn out.

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9. Check Out a New Spot

Use finals week as an excuse to check out that cool new coffee shop you’ve always wanted to go to. Just like it’s taxing to study the same subject for hours, it can also be draining to stay in the same place for an extended period of time. If you’ve got a full day of studying ahead of you, keep it fresh by changing locations every 3-4 hours. Did you know the WAM Riverview gallery has huge study tables where students can spread out and bask in the river sunlight?

For other ideas check out this list of the best coffee shops in the Twin-Cities.


Gina Watylyk is a senior majoring in Technical Writing and Communication and minoring in Chemistry and Art History. She works as an editor and account executive at CLAgency, as a community advisor in Pioneer Hall, and as an office assistant in Frontier Hall. In her free time, Gina can be found going to concerts, riding her bike, eating brunch, or thinking about memes. Gina’s goal in life is to try as many ice cream flavors as possible.