Go to Guide to Survive Finals

So… who else is freaking out?

I am, particularly because I’m writing from the library. And on a typical day, I’d never write from the library but it’s finals week, and I’m taking  a break from studying… so here I am! Obviously, this has been the most stressful time I’ve experienced as a Rutgers student so far. Dealing with the amount of material, cramming, and overall trying to stay sane has proven to be a concept that is almost far-fetched. But instead of complaining and giving up, try to make the best of your situation. Whether you’ve got an exam in art history or organic chemistry, you’ll survive.

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Don’t cram your material. The moment your professor sends out the study guide with the things you should be studying, immediately begin researching the material and constructing some sort of study aid. For me, I filled in the study guide questions and transferred them to notecards to begin studying. If you’ve got a lot of material, make a Quizlet account. My psychology exam has over 300 questions in material that I need to re-learn, so I transferred it online to study. It saves time, money, and paper. Additionally, if your professor gives you a review packet for something like math, work through the problems before your review session. This way you know the material you need help on. Having your professor clear up your questions one last time can really help with your confidence, and it’ll be easier to study. Also, if you didn’t go to your review and just can’t figure out a question, the app PhotoMath is a really helpful tool that shows you step by step with in depth explanations about how to get the answer.

Find a study space where you won’t get distracted. For me, I tried studying in the dorms at first but because I like my door open, people kept coming in and talking. I ended up not getting anything done. (Because I, too, like to talk rather than work through the quadratic formula–shoutout to everyone else in elementary algebra). To avoid this distraction, I packed a backpack with everything possible I’d need for an entire day (extra pens, pencils, calculator, head phones, phone charger, laptop charger, snacks, coffee, etc.), trekked to the library, found a desk, and camped out. I am currently camped out right now while writing this, and I find that I am able to get my most work done in a study zone.

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Here I am, buried somewhere deep in the library where there are no windows. Just books.

Stop procrastinating. If you just complain about how stressed you are and don’t do anything about your situation, then you’re going to do bad. It’s not your professor’s fault for ‘teaching poorly’, or the exam’s fault for being ‘too hard’. Take responsibility for your material and start figuring it out. It’s easy to blame everyone and anything else for your failures, but once you begin to take responsibility for your work, you’ll start doing a lot better.

Get a massage! I personally have not done this, but until the 22nd there are supposedly “Stress Buster” massages at the Livingstone and Cook/Douglass recreation centers.

Try and sleep. Personally, I have been extremely anxious about my upcoming exams and constantly feel like I need to be studying. I like to be proactive with my situations, so when I feel like I’m almost helpless, I will try to do anything possible to eradicate that feeling. For my psychology and math exams, I feel extremely worried because those are two classes I’m not that naturally good at. I find myself struggling to fall asleep, or waking up early, or sleeping really lightly, because I constantly feel like I should be studying or else I’ll fail. However, it’s impossible to ALWAYS be studying. After all, we are humans… our brains can only handle so much. So, tell yourself it’s okay to sleep. Listen to your favorite song on repeat, don’t drink too much coffee, and close your eyes…

Study in groups. Although I prefer to study alone, I also like to study in groups after I feel confident in my material. By talking over your work with your peers, and having others clarify and explain things that you may not have total understanding of, can really help you do better on your exams. Don’t study in groups if you’re going to get sidetracked; only do it if you’re positive you’ll be able to get work done.

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Drink responsibly. 🙂 By this, I mean don’t drink coffee after 6PM unless you’re trying to pull an all-nighter. Also, spread out your caffeine dosages so you don’t give yourself anxiety… I’ve made this mistake, and sometimes my heart won’t stop racing. That’s super distracting when you’re trying to memorize Gen Psych.

Be prepared. On the night before your exams, set a couple of alarms (especially if your exam is in the morning and you’ve been staying up past 3AM each night before). Pack your backpack the night before with everything you need for the exam so you don’t feel like you’re in a rush that morning. You’ll feel confident and prepared.

Overall, finals week is extremely hectic, but you’ll survive. Hopefully these tips can help you do as best as you can.