Ah, it's the most wonderful time of the year. And unfortunately, it happens to coincide with finals.
While studying for finals is awful, it's a time to reflect how fortunate you are to have the higher education opportunities you have and it's also a time to stock the fuck up on all the free snacks.
Here is my best shot at tips to follow during this wonderful finals szn.
1. Go light on the coffee.
As the coffee fiend I am, it hurts to say this. However, I stand by my words. Yes, a cup here and a cup there with a couple hours in between won't hurt you.
However, I will warn you against taking two shots of espresso and following up with another two venti fresh brews. I am currently watching my roommate trying to study for her math final but she can't stop twitching because she drank too much coffee. You will be too wired for your own good and you'll probably have a terrible night of sleep, which leads to difficulty retaining the information you worked so hard to obtain.
Trust me, I'm not trying to take your coffee away from you, just try toning it down. You need a lot less than you think you do.
2. Sleep, sleep, and sleep some more.
Sleep as in light, deep and REM...not sleep as in with that guy down the hall. Getting a good night's rest is like that lunch date with a friendly acquaintance you've been meaning to do for months now: you say you'll make it happen but deep down you know it never will.
Well, it's finals time now so you actually need to get it done. Sleep is SO much more important than you realize.
When you get deep sleep, you are boosting your immune system amongst other wonderful benefits. You need to get through finals week without catching a cold, and you'd be surprised to find that the best way of avoiding one isn't by consuming copious amounts of Vitamin C.
Also, when you get REM sleep, you are replenishing your body's supply of chemicals like serotonin, which boosts your mood, and you are also consolidating memories. Without REM sleep, you're studying will be ineffective and those 200 paintings memorized for art history? Out the window because your mind won't be able to consolidate the memories from studying. My point is clear: GET SOME SLEEP.
3. Get 30 minutes of exercise.
Getting oxygen to your brain can work miracles. Even if for only 10 minutes, do something to get your heart pumping. Run around the main quad, do 100 jumping jacks, or do something or someone else (if you catch my drift).
Whatever you decide to do, you will see the difference when you come back to study more. Your concentration will be heightened and it will be so much easier to sit down, think clearly and use your time effectively.
4. Drink copious amounts (of water).
Maybe this is something my mom made up, but constantly drinking water while studying is a necessity for me.
Every time my mind would get foggy, I'd take a swig. Every time I got bored and started losing focus, I'd take a swig...with lemon. Every time I got sleepy and my eyes got tired, I'd take a swig...with ice! There are so many ways to refresh yourself with some good ole' H2O. I highly suggest.
5. Keep eating normally.
I am guilty of trespassing this commandment. When I get extremely stressed, my body freaks out and I don't get hungry nor do I think of food. On days I'm anxious about an assignment or test, I practically have to force feed myself otherwise I would go a full day without eating but a couple of pretzels. However, eating normal amounts of good food is such a necessity to study well.
You need brain food to function! Imagine trying to drive a car without gas...it just doesn't work (don't be the smart ass to say, oh what if it's electric). Also, most importantly, don't forget to have a good breakfast the day of your final. It will help so much--if not your grade then at least you had something yummy to eat that day.
6. Find your distraction free zone (which sometimes isn't the library).
Although all my friends adore studying every night in the library, I absolutely despise it. It's too cold, too big and way too social to actually get anything done.
Some libraries are better and quieter than others, but I find my distraction free zones to be my own room and coffee shops. I can tune everything out and tune in to my work. Explore to find a place on or off campus that helps you work as productively and efficiently as possible.
7. Work with a study buddy or two.
I think it never hurts to study with someone else. Whether it be that god awful linear algebra class or organic chem, working with a study buddy or study group can help alleviate the misery. They split the misery of studying for a difficult subject amongst a crowd, help you learn important things you might not have paid attention to if you were alone and provide you with someone to explain things clearly.
Imagine: instead of wasting time sitting in your room alone, agonizing over the problem you can't solve and the box of brownies you just scarfed down, you're quickly getting three problem sets done! Trust me, study groups are the way to go. Plus you can make new friends to hang out with after finals hell week is over. Cheers!
8. Take a deep breath.
Yeah, sounds stupid but sometimes all you need in life is to calm the fuck down and remind yourself that the world is not ending. You are taking a test.
You are privileged enough to have a shot at becoming a part of the 6.7 percent of the world population that has the opportunity to hold a college degree, so do everyone a favor and stop complaining about it. Take another deep breath, put things into perspective, then proceed studying and kicking ass.
9. Stay positive.
Although this piece of advice stems partly from my argument in #8, and is partly because I simply don't want to hear you complain, I truly believe in the power of staying positive. Pretty much everyone is in the exact same boat as you, so your complaining and pessimism is just wasting precious studying time!
I also believe that thinking positively about future outcomes for a final, or for anything for that matter, will bring good forces to you and your life. Studying and taking the exam will be so much easier if you stay positive: congratulate yourself for understanding something or solving a problem correctly, and work harder to understand things that are confusing instead of badgering yourself by saying that you will fail.
Go into the test with high spirits, a pleasant outlook and hope for the best. If you worked hard and studied as much as you could, that is the best you could do. Might as well have a good attitude about it than be that pessimist that brings down everyone's day, including your own.
10. Stop doing precisely what you're doing right now: procrastinating.
Now that you have all the tricks of the trade, get your ass off this article and go study. No further comment.