It’s finals week! While this is one of the more dreaded weeks of the semester, at least it marks one more semester under your belt. Some are hit hard with projects and dead week was the worst week ever, but others might have an insane amount of finals. I only have three this semester, but I know some who have up to five finals. So how do tackle one of the hardest weeks of college?
This question always comes down to how much work you want to put into this week. Let’s imagine a situation where you want to be the laziest as possible. If you were good about going to class and turning in assignments, chances are, you already know your stuff. Reading over your notes a little before will help you remember what you need to know for the exam. I wake up about an hour earlier than I normally would and rework homework problems.
The Yerkes Dodson Law is the relationship between arousal and performance. This concept was talked about by my RA at a Residence Life program for the Honors College floor in Hokona a week or so ago. It basically shows a bell curve with the x and y-axis of arousal and performance respectively. If you are too aroused (i.e. super, insanely stressed) your performance decreases to approximately zero.
You want to be minimally aroused to reach your maximum performance. So, stay calm and do a puzzle before the exam. Doing a puzzle makes your brain start to work and process but doesn’t psych you out before your exam. Ideally, doing this before an exam will put you at your prime performance come test time.
Another strategy for the day of an exam is making sure you eat food before. Good foods to help fuel brainpower are fish, carbs, protein, and energy snacks. Test day, especially for those 7:30 am exams, is not the day to skip breakfast. While personally, a salmon fillet is not in my college budget or appetizing at 6:00 am but a good yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and granola would be perfect for the test day. Remembering to drink water the day before, the night before, and morning before. It will be super helpful too. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and you’re constantly taking bathroom breaks during those precious two hours.
If you are willing to put in a little more work, check out your exam room before if it turns out it’s not the room you’ve been having class in. Feeling comfortable in the room and not being surprised by no clock in the room or a weird poster right before the exam or in the middle of the exam will save brainpower for the task at hand.
It will also prevent you from getting lost and showing up late. If you are never early to anything, make a lot of effort to be early to this. Some professors won’t let you sit for the exam if you’re late. Others won’t give you extra time, so showing up late only cheats yourself of doing your best.
If you are willing to put all of the work in, make time to see TAs and professors, take practice exams, and create study guides. You can go to reviews, start studying early, color-code your notes, and make an effort to explain topics to others. At this point, you’ve been testing for about twelve years, so you know how you operate and what study methods work best for you.
If you have just one or two tests, channel your energy into the exams and try not to procrastinate. If you have closer to five finals, study efficiently and effectively. Take breaks and make sure you sleep as much as possible. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Finally, if you don’t have any finals, peace out and enjoy your break (eventually we all will be there too!).