How to relieve some of the stress from preparing for final exams

By Riley Dauber
Elm Staff Writer

Now that students have returned to campus from Thanksgiving break, many found themselves either ill-prepared for finals or confused as to how to manage their assignments.

Whether this is your first semester at Washington College or your last, it is important to have some tactics for preparing for finals.

Before you can start studying or writing, you need to know when your exam session is or when the paper is due.

The final exam schedule is available on the WC website under the “Registrar” page. It will show you when your exam period is depending on when your class usually is.

Once you know when your exams are, check with your professors to understand the requirements. Some will assign a final paper or presentation, while others will go with the standard pencil and paper test.

Knowing which assignment you have for which class is beneficial, since if you have a paper due the week of finals, you want to be well-prepared and have it completed on time.

Make a To-Do List

Many students keep to-do lists for what they need to complete in a day or a week, but it may be beneficial to have a to-do list dedicated to final projects and exams. This helps you prioritize assignments that are due sooner than others and plot out time to study for exams.

“Writing a clear list for each class of what I need to do by which date is really helpful for me because it keeps those projects at the forefront of my mind,” freshman Claire Garretson said.        

Crossing items off a to-do list as you complete them is also very satisfying and may help relieve stress during exam season.

It is also helpful to see everything you need to get done by the end of the semester written on paper. If you are overwhelmed, writing things down may help you realize that you are capable of completing all of your assignments in time.

Prioritize Assignments

This tip goes hand-in-hand with the to-do list suggestion. By writing out all of your assignments and their due dates it helps you realize what assignments need to get done first.

It is also important to take note of the assignments that may be more difficult or take more time to complete. According to the Princeton Review, “If chemistry gave you trouble all semester, devote more time to that subject — even if it’s your last final.”

By focusing more on a subject that troubles you first, it gives you more time to improve.

Take Care of Yourself

Some students may believe their grades are the most important matter, but in actuality, you should be striving to take care of yourself during finals season.

If you spent all day studying at the library, it is perfectly acceptable to spend some time watching television or doing a hobby you enjoy. It will help you de-stress and take a step back from your assignments.

Make sure you are eating healthy and staying hydrated as well. Do not skip meals because you are too busy studying, take breaks or go to the dining hall with friends.         

You should also go to bed at a reasonable hour. Although pulling an all-nighter is tempting, it is not recommended. According to the Sleep Foundation, “Total lack of sleep reduces attention span and concentration. It slows reaction time and impairs constructive thinking.”

Pulling an all-nighter will also affect your memory, so even though you stayed up late to study, this technique will end up not helping.

“It detracts from working memory, which is a temporary memory bank that we use for short-term needs…people in these sleep-deprived circumstances are prone to make all types of errors and mistakes,” the Sleep Foundation says.     

So, while you may think staying up late to study will help you do well on the exam, you may end up forgetting everything you learned.        

Finals season is a stressful time for everyone, but by keeping a clear head and focusing on the task at hand, you are more likely to succeed. If you are still doubtful, take into consideration how the test will affect your life. A grade on an exam or paper does not define you as a person.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr
Featured Photo Caption: Studying for exams, preparing for projects, and writing essays are biannual stressors for students as the heat turns up for semester finals once again.

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