Give your brain a break — tips for surviving exams

By Noah Newsome
Elm Staff Writer

The end of the semester is rapidly approaching, with finals week officially starting on May 8. As final exams tend to make up a large portion of one’s overall grade, it is important to do well in order to finish strong this semester.

Fortunately, there are numerous strategies that you can employ to achieve your highest potential during the last stretch of this semester.

Make a schedule

Make sure to keep track of all the dates related to your final exams, as each class has a different window for test taking.

Canvas is a worthwhile tool, as the calendar feature lets you separate assignment due dates and class times and you can use the note section to mark out any additional information.

Double-checking the location of your final exam is also wise, as it can be incredibly stressful to show up to the wrong room if your test is held somewhere different from your normal class.

Should you have a paper or project in lieu of a final exam, keeping track of dates becomes even more important. Several professors have you turn in your paper in stages, giving you several dates to keep track of if you want to avoid losing easy points.

Scheduling out time to study is also essential, as relying solely on motivation to study is unwise, and you will more than likely be fighting a losing battle against your academic fatigue.

Having a study buddy can keep you honest, and the two of you can even make your study sessions more effective by quizzing each other about course materials.

Find a suitable place to study

As mentioned previously, setting aside time to study is essential to doing well on your final exams, but it is also important to study effectively. This can only happen in a location that is largely distraction-free, yet still comfortable enough to ensure that you can stay focused on the task at hand.

The Clifton M. Miller Library is a desirable study location for many reasons, as it is a quiet and comfortable location. It also helps to be close to so many academic resources if you are working on a final project.

It is important to cultivate an online workspace as well, in order to prevent the infinite potential of the Internet from distracting you while you work on your computer.

Virtual workplace apps such as Virtual Cottage, available for free download on the Steam web platform, can help manage the temptation of procrastination and aid in your studying efforts.

There are also numerous educational apps you can download to help optimize your studying, with Quizlet being one of the most noteworthy for the myriad of study options it provides.

Ask for help from your peers

While your final exam will likely have to be taken alone, you don’t have to prepare all by yourself.

As previously mentioned, it can be helpful to have a study buddy in order to make your study sessions more effective, but this is not the only avenue you can use when seeking the help of others.

Asking to meet with your professor to go over any material you might still have questions on is always a promising idea, though if their time to help you is scarce there are also other options.

Washington College has numerous tutoring resources designed to assist you in meeting your academic goals, such as the Office of Academic Skills, the Quantitative Skills Center, and the Writing Center.

While there are many tutors, they have limited time when trying to help the entire campus, so make sure to grab an appointment when you can since they are liable to be filled quickly as the semester winds down.


Skipping out on sleep to study more might seem like a good idea in the moment, but in depriving your body of sleep you are harming your ability to form new memories, making study sessions less effective overall.

Any psychology student can tell you that the majority of memory formation occurs during sleep, so depriving yourself of rest can cause the knowledge you are trying to retain to vanish like smoke in the wind.

Sleep deprivation also makes you more vulnerable to becoming ill, and in a world where a pandemic is still thriving within the population, reducing your defense against illness is not recommended.

Illness and sleep deprivation can also impact your performance during an exam, causing you to make simple mistakes even if you know the material.

Try to get at least eight full hours of sleep before any exam in order to be at your best.

As exam season approaches, remember to take care of yourself and do your best — you’ll be sure to succeed.

Photo Olivia Dorsey

Featured Photo Caption: Exam season is stressful for everyone. It is important to take time for yourself and remember that your grades do not define you at the end of the day.

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