Millions of high school, college and graduate students are entering the most stressful time of the semester: Final’s Week. Here’s your guide to getting through it:
Map out your strategy
Your time is divisible so grab a calculator and aliquot into equal periods. Make sure you have extra sessions included for breaks and catch up sessions. Or you can use a calendar that is already compartmentalized on which to create your timetable.
Clean your desk!
A nice clean, crisp desk with plenty of pens and highlighters helps energize one more than cluttered paper. Moreover have a second work space you can go to when you get sick of working at your desk.
Now this is easier said than done. Some will put their hardest classes on their study calendar first, some the easiest. There are pros and cons to both. What I suggest is alternating difficult and easy subjects. You need the start of your day and initial power hours knocking out the difficult material, but then the easier classes will boost your confidence and sometimes energy. So one option could be:
- Study block 1: Tough subject
- Study block 2: Easy subject
- Study block 3: Medium subject
- Hour 4: Review
- With breaks, of course, in between.
Take real breaks!
You should design two types of breaks: Short and Long.
Your short break should be no shorter than 10 minutes. During the break you must do the following:
- Get up and stretch
- Drink water
- Eat a small snack
- Go to the bathroom
- Listen to some music, dance, phone a friend
Your long break should be no shorter than 45 minutes. During these breaks you can:
- Eat a regular meal, if due, and drink plenty of fluids
- Take a small nap
- Take a shower – helps refresh and energize
- Check social media – stick to your time limit though!
- Watch a 30 minute episode of your favorite sitcom
- Exercise such as going for a run
Identify signs of burnout
If you’re “going through the motions” of studying and feel “burnt” you won’t be absorbing the material and subsequently you’ll be wasting precious hours. You must identify burnout by looking for the following:
- Poor sleep when you get done in the evening
- Negative attitude towards school and others
- Procrastinating your next study block
- Being irritated
- Feeling empty
- Low energy
- Thinking about quitting
How to avoid burnout
When studying for finals it’s difficult to avoid the boredom and stress, but the following may help:
- Study with friends
- Mix up your study sessions with videos and flash cards if reading gets overwhelming
- Watch a short funny video to get you laughing
- Take regular breaks
- Make sure you’re eating and sleeping well
Finals week is never supposed to be easy so accept it and own it! But put your health first since you can always make up a test……
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.