5 tips for surviving (and passing) your finals


There’s no denying it; finals week can be a stressful and demanding time for all students. Now is the time that a semester’s worth of hard work (or a week full of cramming) pays off.

So here are some tips that can help you prepare for and survive your final exams. After all, only a few exams stand between you and your winter break.

1. Get a good night’s sleep

This one may seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but is often something that is easy to overlook, especially with the looming pressure to get hours of study time in.

“Developing a ritual at bedtime, maintaining the order in which you put on you pajamas, brush your teeth and things like that will help your brain train itself to signal to the body that it’s time for bed,” Dayna Northart, counselor with K-State Counseling Services, said.

Reading, checking emails, doing homework or anything besides sleep while in bed can also be detrimental to the quality of sleep.

“Your brain starts to pick up cues from its environment, and if it starts to associate your bed with something other than sleep, then when you get into bed it will think that other things will need to be going on,” Northart said.

2. Manage your stress

This can be hard to do when multiple exams are packed into one week (or sometimes a day), but your mental well-being is just as important as actually knowing the material that’s going to be on the test.

“Be more aware of the present moment,” Northart said. “This means not worrying about what happened during the day or worrying about what will happen tomorrow. Be where you are in the moment and know that right now you’re OK.”

A good way of getting in touch with the present moment is naming five things you see, hear or feel.

The first step to reducing stress in your life is determining the source of your stress and evaluating how you currently cope with that stress.

Northart suggests practicing diaphragmatic breathing to help you cope with stress. This means taking a deep breath in through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

According to the American Institute of Stress, deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Focusing your thoughts on breathing brings your awareness away from your worries.

3. Know what method works for you

Everybody studies differently. Knowing which techniques produce the best results for you can be half the battle.

“I’m a flashcards person,” Mary Privitera, freshman in open option, said. “Physically writing the information on the flashcard is great practice also.”

According to Northart, smell is the sense most associated with memory.

“Peppermint is a very memorable smell,” said Northart. “So if you study while sucking on a peppermint (stick) or wearing peppermint hand lotion, doing the same during a test can trigger your brain.”

4. Time management

Finding the time to fit studying into your schedule can often be more difficult than the studying itself.

“I like to study in small blocks of time, and study one subject on one day and then a different subject the next day,” Devonna Lyons, freshman in open option, said.

Studying in small blocks of time allows you to take advantage of small time intervals between classes and maximize your study sessions. Plus, studying in small blocks of time can help you better retain the information.

Northart suggests studying for your hardest test first. This way, you can relax while studying for your other tests and are able to allow adequate study time for those that are extra difficult.

5. Take care of your body

Taking care of your body by exercising and eating right can make all the difference.

“Go grocery shopping the week before you do your studying,” Northart said, “This way you can plan your meals ahead of time and ensure that you will have the proper nutrition your body needs and don’t have to cut into your study time to go shopping.”

After being cooped up in the library studying all day, you can be left feeling foggy and lethargic. Getting your heart rate up through any type of exercise is a great way to clear your mind, help you focus and increase your energy levels.

“Exercise can serve as a great study break, plus it can be easier to get back to it once I’ve taken a quick break,” Hayden Woods, junior in computer science, said.

As finals week approaches, keep these tips in mind to keep that grade you’ve worked all semester to earn.

Michelle Wehkamp is a junior in mass communications.