Finals Week 101: How to Survive the End of the Semester


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Textbooks are a student’s best friend during finals week as people cram to succeed at the end of the semester.

Kate Moores, Staff Writer

It’s the worst time of the year: students are cramming for finals, losing sleep and spending hours studying all during the holiday season. Balancing grades for eight different classes is no easy feat, but there are some simple ways for students to survive the end of the semester.

 It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole when trying to effectively study for a tough final. Often, it can result in multiple all-nighters and unhealthy caffeine consumption in an attempt to know anything on an exam. However, cramming for tests has proven to not be an effective way to do your best on the test, according to Best Colleges. The best method is starting early: beginning your studies a couple weeks before finals will give you enough time to absorb the information properly. Creating a study schedule and knowing exactly when your finals are will help you feel ready for exams.

Even more important than when you’re studying is how you’re studying. Avoid reading chapter after chapter of textbooks, hoping some information will stick. According to the University of St. Augustine for Health and Sciences, the best methods include the SQ3R method and retrieval practice. To study using SQ3R, start with surveying: skim chapters and take notes on headings and other standout information. Question the information. Read the chapter and try to answer those questions, recite the information you learned and lastly, review. Using this method for large sections of information will allow you to effectively understand it. Retrieval practice can help keep what you studied in your memory. Instead of copying information word for word from a textbook, make your own questions and use flashcards. Those and practice tests can help you recall information easier. 

These tips can only help if you have the time to use them. If it’s the night before a final, it’s critical that you stick to major ideas so you can retain some information. Get away from all distractions, set a timer, and create your own study guide. Talk to yourself: say the information out loud as you get a better grasp of the material. Again, don’t pull any all-nighters; study as effectively as you can for a couple of hours, and then rest. Focus makes up half of your success on an exam. 

During this stressful period, it’s difficult to remember that grades do not define you. Do not damage your mental or physical health just to get an A on a test. Try your best to study and succeed in your classes, but not at the expense of your well-being. Get lots of sleep, eat healthy foods and try to go outdoors or get some exercise. Spending extended amounts of time in front of a screen or reading out of a textbook is not healthy, even if it’s for your grade. Having a clear mind is a huge help during an exam and remembering your health during finals week will help you achieve that. 

After a year of COVID-19, it’s hard to once again adjust to the overwhelming workload of finals week. While grades are important, it’s even more crucial to take care of yourself. Study effectively and make sure to get some rest.