How to Survive Final Exams

Finals are the most stressful week of the college semester. But if you can get through finals, that’s a few classes off your list toward getting your degree.

It’s challenging studying for multiple classes simultaneously. However, there are ways to avoid burnout and maintain your sanity. Here’s a look at nine simple ways to survive finals.


1. Find Out What's Covered on the Test

Don’t be afraid to inquire about information covered on the final. Does the final include everything from the beginning of the semester, or only coursework from the second half of the semester? This way, you don’t waste time and energy studying information that won’t be on the test.

2. Lighten Your Load

If possible, lighten your load the week of finals so you can devote as much energy as possible to preparing for tests. This might include working fewer hours or canceling extracurricular activities for the week.

3. Start Study Sessions Early

Don’t wait until the last minute to start studying for finals. Even if you don’t know exactly what’s going to be on the test, start refreshing your memory and reviewing information a couple of weeks before finals. With the information fresh in your mind, you won’t have to cram or plan long study sessions.

4. Take Breaks

Studying for hours can test your patience and cause burnout. Take breaks every hour to give your mind a rest. It doesn’t have to be a long break — maybe five or ten minutes. Stretch, get a snack or check your social media.

5. Eliminate Distractions

Some people study with the television or radio on, or they have study sessions with friends. However, these distractions can waste time and reduce concentration, and you might need to study longer to fully grasp information. Alleviate distractions to keep your mind sharp.

6. Make Time for Activities That Reduce Stress

Although you’ll need to eliminate distractions and time wasters, don’t give up activities that reduce stress. For example, getting 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity every day can reduce anxiety and stress, as does deep breathing exercises and quiet meditation. If your mind is clear and relaxed, it’s easier to study and retain information.

7. Get a Good Night's Sleep

Don’t pull an all-nighter right before a final. It’ll be difficult to concentrate on the day of the test if you’re tired and sluggish, and you might make a few careless mistakes. Go to bed early and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep.

8. Start Your Day Earlier

On the day of finals, wake up earlier to get your day off to a good start. This ensures there’s enough time for a healthy breakfast so you’re not distracted by hunger. And if you can leave the house on time, you won’t feel rushed. You can get to class a little early and review material before taking the final.

9. Take Your Time on the Day of the Test

There’ll be plenty of time to finish the test, so don’t rush. Start by answering questions you know to avoid spending too much time on questions that stump you. Once you’ve answered the easy questions, go back and focus your attention on the harder ones.

Finals week can be tough, but there are ways to survive and get through each test with ease. The trick is planning ahead, and making sure you’re mentally and physically ready.