It’s Day 6 of the Shape-Up Challenge! And like I promised yesterday, I’m dedicated to posting everyday even if it means I get up an extra hour early! (Which would be more impressive if I wasn’t a huge morning person).
But anyway! I’m sitting down with my breakfast and making my schedule for the week (Saturday to next Saturday) and realized it’d be a great time to talk about what makes a successful finals week.
And to be honest – I can only say this because I’ve had a ton of really really rough finals weeks. So rough. If you’re pre-med I highly highly recommend trying out some of these tips and sticking to them to avoid a crazy and stressful week. It probably will still be a little stressful (I remember the anxiety of needing to get a perfect 4.0) but it will go much smoother.
My first tip might make some of you sad…
1) Don’t go with the flow.
- Finals’ week in undergrad is cluttered with A LOT of students who didn’t study all semester and need to pull up their grades — or who simply don’t care about their grades.
- Although I do believe in celebrating and taking breaks, I have seen partying and drinking become the reason why someone doesn’t do very well on finals. Even though it’s so hard just try to wait until after your finals are over and then celebrate. 🙂 Or if you’re like me you use “I’m studying” as the perfect excuse for why you CAN’T go drink away. HAHA.
- Be wary of “study group sessions” – I swear these can be the death of a grade if it becomes the only way you study. Sometimes it’s good to have a study partner or two to keep you motivated or to have company but try to avoid study sessions that just turn into a big social activity. It can be good to review with a friend after you’ve learned the material but it might confuse you if you haven’t studied at all.
- Whatever you do – do NOT pay attention to how or what other people are doing. This is so important. If someone is making flash cards that does not mean you need to make flash cards. If your classmates say “I’m just going to review a little” but you know you need much more, don’t just “review a little.” They might try to guilt you for studying more than them but stick to what is best for YOU. Same goes for if it’s YOU that feels good about how much you’ve studied but your friends are still studying.
2) Push out all negative thoughts about the semester and channel confidence in your work.
- I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this you’re not the type of person who doesn’t care about grades. You probably care A TON about grades. And you probably feel like you didn’t study enough this semester.
- But I’m here to tell you that most likely you did your best with what you knew. It’s always good to be honest with yourself about where you fell short and what to change for next semester but the key to finals week is to literally LET ALL THAT GO. At least until after finals week. I like to review after finals are all over about the semester and make notes to myself about what I need to change for the next semester.
- I like to listen to music that makes me feel confident and happy and to constantly remind myself that “I’m going to KILL this final.”
Confession: I like to listen to rap to motivate myself to study. Idk why! It’s so weird but it works way better for me than classical music!
3) Make a plan and then STICK with it.
- Like I said, I’m making a schedule for every hour of each day this week. If I know I only have 2 hours to study for my final I am WAY more likely to get it done instead of thinking of all the “free time” I have since it’s finals week.
- Making a detailed plan helps to build confidence in your preparation. Confidence + preparation = You Dominating Your Finals.
- I use the Day Designer Free print-able Worksheet for the week. I’m including the link to their page here. Just “buy it” (it’s free) and then download the attachments from the email and print it out. 🙂 I love these things.
4) Schedule workouts and breaks into your schedule.
- I can’t believe the difference between the finals weeks where I made myself go to my regular gym sessions. I remember being so so tired and saying “I’ll just go and if I suck then whatever I still went” but then being at the gym and totally killing it! I see workouts as a treat during finals week since it relieves so much stress for me. I recommend doing cardio during finals week (but weights and yoga are great too) but cardio seems to release the most feel-good endorphins for me 🙂
- Go shopping and plan out snacks and meals. DO IT. I swear it will save you so much time and will help curb the desire to just grab a sweet treat at Starbucks. I used to tell myself that since it was finals week I needed something sweet to keep me going. Alas, the finals weeks where I chose to eat healthy and avoid junk food were the best finals weeks ever. You’ll have way more energy and feel so much better!
- But have a treat too. I know! I just said don’t have a sweet treat. But what I mean is just don’t have them all the time. Give yourself permission to have a couple during the week or to just do something you love. 🙂 Check out my post on avoiding burn-outs for more tips on this!
5) Plan a super fun time for after finals week.
- If you’re the type of person who can’t focus if you’re thinking about doing something fun just skip this tip. But if not, it can really help your mind to know that after you’re done you’ll get to relax or go out and party. (Whatever floats YOUR boat.)
- I secretly love finals week. I love the craziness and all the studying. It’s so weird but I do love it. It also motivates me knowing that in just a short little time I won’t be studying anymore. So why NOT study?
6) Give it your BEST and let God do the REST.
- Or whatever greater power you believe in. 🙂 This phrase has gotten me through so many tough weeks or exams. Seriously. I love trusting that if I just do my best the rest will be taken care of/work out.
- Of course that doesn’t mean you can skip studying and hope God will give you divine answers. LOL. No, it just means trust in your preparation and after that let all your worries flow away. I first learned about this when I was interested in Buddhism and I loved it – it’s not a God (but more of a universe type of thing).
- I put an extra 3 P’s on that because you need sleep x a billion. Seriously. Take it from me because I’m the worst sleeper. I love waking up in the morning and I will only get enough sleep if I make myself go to bed early. Which is so hard during finals week but it does make a difference.
I WISH my sleep was this peaceful!!!!
So here’s a sample of what I would do the night before an exam:
- Read/go through all the material for the exam right before I go to bed. Make sure I’ve included any and all material that I know I will need to know. Maybe more detail than necessary.
- Go to bed early.
- Wake up about 4-5 hours before the exam (or more if it was later in the day).
- Go through ALL the material again. This time focusing on literally eliminating material from the study guide.
- Yep – eliminate stuff from the study guide. As you know you know the material just delete it or stop looking at it. This is great if you’re using a laptop because you can just delete it. I make myself delete it. Because once you know it you need to stop looking at it right before the test.
- Why? So you can focus on the material you don’t know. Focus on the stuff you need to keep seeing or re-writing because you don’t know it.
- I will try to make things as simple as humanly possible. Because one or two words can jog your memory of what you need to know and you’re way more likely to remember 1 or 2 words.
So there’s my tips for studying for finals! I wish you all the best of luck and I’ll catch up with you tomorrow! 🙂
Also, because I know how difficult it can be to make a plan, I’m offering FREE advice/help with planning for finals week for the first 3 people who:
- Likes this post.
- Follows the blog. (or Subscribes if not on wordpress)
- Emails me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
I can’t wait to hear from you! This offer is good until May 12th because that’s when I leave for Europe! 🙂
Email me if you have any questions and be sure to Follow and Like this post if it helped you. 🙂