Tips on how to survive — and thrive — during final exams

By Kaitlin Dunn

Elm Staff Writer

As finals week approaches, many Washington College students have started to prepare for their final exams, which are scheduled to take place from May 11 to May 15. 

Here are some study tips that you can implement to help you feel less overwhelmed as you begin to study for finals.

Get everything accounted for

Sometimes, it can feel as though all your work is piling up, making it feel like it’s impossible to get a hold on everything. 

Taking assessment of all your assignments and their requirements can help you make a clear plan going forward.

“Take a look at the big picture. Make a list of all the assignments — even little reading assignments not worth points — in chronological order, [and]then think about your priorities,” Hilary Bateman, director of the Office of Academic Skills, said. “Consider things like which assignments could impact your grade the most, which courses are most important to you because of interest in the subject, major, or prerequisite for post grad, and of course when items are due.”

Create a study schedule

Before you dive in, make sure you set aside time to study each subject. After dividing up the work, you can then set times to study each specific subject, helping you to feel less overwhelmed.

“I suggest creating a study schedule for finals week and the week(s) leading up to it,” OAS Peer Tutor and junior Carlee Berkenkemper said. “Personally, I know that I start to feel bunt out if I study the same subject too long, so I will plan to spend about 20-30 minutes for each class every other day or so.” 

However, do not be too hard on yourself with your schedule; if you need to go over your set timing in one subject area, that’s okay. 

“You may need to make adjustments as you go — but that’s why you’re planning, so you can make adjustments and be strategic,” Bateman said. “Make sure to [also] build in buffer time. A day or two at least for larger assignments, so if something takes longer, or you get burnt out, you have time and you can avoid additional stress.”

Reach out to your professors

If you still find yourself stuck, be sure to reach out to your professors during their office hours for extra help.

By using them as a resource, you can also narrow down what topics your final exam will be covering, and they can help guide you along during your studying process.

“Asking questions and reviewing previous exams [with your professors], especially those from early in the semester, is a valuable review experience,” Berkenkemper said.

If you would like further evaluation on an assignment, be sure to make an appointment with the WC Writing CenterQuantitative Skills Center, or Peer Tutoring and Course Mentoring

Though it might be frightening to reach out, it’s important to know that these professors and peer tutors are there to assist in any way they can to help you succeed. 

“We want you to feel comfortable, and if you’re a little hesitant or stressed out about an assignment, we’ll also be available to talk you through it…and give you the reassurance you need because it makes for a better session if you’re comfortable,” Writing Center Peer Consultant and senior Samina Soin-Voshell said in a previous interview with The Elm

Take breaks

Do not burn yourself out during your study process, leaving yourself with no more energy for your actual final. 

Taking time for breaks not only provides you much-needed time away from overloading yourself, but also helps maximize your studying efficiency, giving yourself your best chance at success in your finals.

“In your plan, build in time to take a rest…and move your body. Go for a walk, do some stretches, yoga, work out, or whatever reenergizes you,” Bateman said. “Your efforts become less efficient when you’re burnt out — it is worth the investment, you have time.”  

Be kind to yourself

Above all, remember to take care of yourself — both when studying and taking exams — including asking for help, taking breaks, and allowing yourself to take a breath.

“Getting everything done does not mean you can’t take care of yourself,” Bateman said. “I’m a big believer that you can get more done better and more efficiently if you’re taking good care of your body and brain.” 

During the study process, it can be overwhelming at times; however, while final exams are important, grades are not everything. As long as you know that you are prepared, that is what matters most. 

Featured Photo caption: As the semester comes to a close, here are some tips Washington College students can use to prepare themselves both academically and mentally ace their final exams. Photo by Izze Rios.

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