Finals. When you are a college student, that word alone can trigger anxiety. For me, an older student who has just returned to school this semester, the word could trigger a full-blown panic attack. However, I’m determined not to let it. I can’t promise that there won’t be at least a little anxiety, though.
The last time I had a full-time class load was when Bill Clinton was in his first term in office. However, I remember that time well and don’t want to repeat what I did back then, like procrastinate and let finals week catch up with me. The best way to go about that is by being prepared, and that entails keeping up with my work throughout the semester, which I’ve done.
Time is of the essence and to make the best of it you must plan it out down to the minute. I didn’t do that well before. All students should look at their schedules and figure out when they can fit extra studying into their day. Do you have an hour in between classes? Good. Plan to go to a dining hall and grab something to eat and get a bit of reading in. Does your first class begin mid-morning? Get up a bit earlier than normal to get some studying done. Do you have some time after your classes are done for the day before you have to go to work? Try to use that time to get something productive done. This will help you in the long run and keep you from pulling all-nighters.
Cramming, good or bad? This is something that works for some people and it has worked for me when I’ve needed to do it. However, the idea of cramming for a test makes me more anxious than the exam itself. I need to get a good night’s sleep before an exam. If I am falling asleep on my blue book, it’s not a good thing. And I’m sure the professor will appreciate a drool free exam booklet.
Aside from sleep, well-balanced meals are usually the first thing to go during finals. Try not to let that be the case, make sure you eat enough and try to eat decently during finals week. Coffee and Red Bull won’t sustain you. You will crash eventually.
Unfortunately, finals creep up right around the holiday season causing for added stress and work. Planning as much as you can ahead of time makes it easier. If you can shop online instead of adding shopping to your to-do list, go for it. Just don’t leave online shopping until the last minute or your gifts won’t arrive in time.
In the end, preparation is key for exam week. Semesters go by quickly and staying on top of the material throughout the semester will make a difference in how you feel about finals week. If you didn’t do such a great job of that this semester and you feel you are spending December trying to learn the material, make a New Year’s Resolution to do things differently next semester! Good luck with your exams!