First of all, stress is a highly personal and situational thing, so it is important that anyone reading this article recognize that if the suggestions listed here-in don’t work, your stress is probably not due to just finals. That, or you are simply incurable and are doomed to a life of acne break-outs, peptic ulcers, and any of the other gratuitous physical, and quite hideously insufferable, symptoms associated with chronic stress. Sorry about that.
For a good general list of stress coping mechanisms , view our previous article:
THEN, read on to learn how to appropriately deal with Finals / Semester-Long Project season.
Give Yourself a Break Will Ya’?
People always identify stressors, those things that cause stress, in the form of outside stimuli: tests, finals, projects, other people, exes (who don’t count as people), work, and bosses (whose also don’t count). They are all the ones who, in our minds, are the cause of all the stress in the world. No one, and I mean no one in the history of blog-posts about stress (this is probably not true), ever bothers to tell people it is their own damned fault. This is why giving yourself a break is most important.
The thing about stress is that stressors would just be random shit if they didn’t have YOU to give them significance, and generally people just straight blow-it when it comes to letting themselves off the hook. When they aren’t doing something they think they should be, all they think about is the task they aren’t completing…and when they ARE doing what they are supposed to, all they can think about is how frustratingly difficult it is, as well as how they probably don’t have enough time to do it properly. That is why I am here to say: “QUIT IT!….just quit it.” When you aren’t working on shit you need to do, make sure you aren’t thinking about it. Watch some television, hang out with friends, do anything to take your mind off of stressful things.
If you don’t give yourself a break, when you sit down to do work you will feel like you have been working the entire time that you have been stressing-out, which will only contribute to frustration and more stress. IF you DO give yourself a break, when you sit down to do work, you will think clearly, and be unburdened by frustration and additional stress. This brings me to my next suggestion…a schedule.
Create a Good Schedule
Giving yourself a break does not mean you should completely forget about studying for finals and just dick around. There are only a few people who can do that and succeed, and that is because they are brilliant slackers who probably waste time by working for The Campus Companion. INSTEAD, it means make a schedule that pretty carefully plans when you are going to work on what project and when you can study for which exams. Over-estimate time for each of these schedule items, BUT don’t go too crazy.
FINALLY, make sure your schedule includes plenty of “you time”, and I mean actually label in the schedule-blocks “time to have fun and fool around”. If you don’t, they are just blank schedule boxes in which you could be doing work, and you risk your brain rationalizing that they should be occupied by studying for finals, which as I have previously mentioned is the REAL cause of your stress. These are what we call “Boundaries.”
Studies have proven that material studied just before sleep is more effectively recalled. Let me clarify this…in order for it to be considered “sleep”, you must actually enter MULTIPLE rem cycles. Sleeping for two hours after pulling the notorious all-nighter will not help you. Even with ample caffeine and adderall, you will not think as clearly or be as focused during an exam as you would if you had just gotten the sleep. This causes people to misread questions, make stupid mistakes, and generally just blow-it on exams. Instead, if you aren’t as prepared as you’d like, go to sleep and set an alarm so you get about five or six hours of sleep MINIMUM, and then try and study some more for a couple hours before your exam. You will do A LOT better.
Study Groups are Stupid and Three is a Crowd
I don’t know who came up with the idea of a “Study Group,” but they are a complete idiot. If you are going to study, the maximum number of people involved in your “ascertainment of the truth” should be two. Ideally, I think individuals should study on their own and in their own way, but sometimes it helps to have another brain around who might be able to give you a hand if you can’t figure something out. Although one could argue that the same could be said for a third or fourth brain, I can argue that the “one” arguing in favor of a larger group is not a business major because if they were they would understand the importance of “Cost/Benefit Analysis”. The benefit of the additional insight garnered by going beyond 1 study partner is vastly outweighed by the potential for distraction. That is all there is to it. Shoot for efficiency in your studying. You can get twice as much studying done in an hour than you probably get done in two-hours if you study in a larger group.
Going into finals season, everyone has an idea of where they stand in terms of understanding the curriculum. That said, if there is a class that you have been easing by with Cs in all semester, it really might not be best to spend the majority of your time and focus to go after that A. I KNOW….you really, really want to bring up that grade, but it is important to consider how you might be hurting yourself, The fact is, if you have been studying all semester and still not succeeding, then your chances of succeeding on the final are diminished as well.
Instead, you might want to turn your focus to a class that is difficult, but that your studying has historically paid off in. By studying for this type of class, you have a better chance of not fucking-up and changing what is an otherwise good-grade into a bad one, than you do of changing a bad grade into a good one. That is, sometimes a bad grade on the final can hurt an overall grade more than a good grade on a final can improve an overall grade. Make damn sure to consider that.
Likewise, avoid wasting too much time reviewing material for a class that you have historically not had to study much for.
I like to consider studying for finals like a mountain made up of all of my classes. You should carefully plan your route up. If you go straight for the steepest rock-face, you might make quick progress up, but there is much greater risk that you fall and fuck up the climb. However, it is just as futile and inefficient to walk around the easy trail that spirals all the way to the top of the mountain. The smart way up the mountain is to take the moderate routes. THEN, if it becomes necessary, the smart climber will scale the steep rock faces, or succumb to the easy trail.
The Following Article is Another Good Resource:
Subscribe for More!
I send out a couple of monthly / weekly newsletters on various topics. Take a moment to enter your details, and you can select the news you would like to have delivered to your inbox!