Navigating Finals Week: You got this!

Guest Blog Post: Elizabeth Baldridge, Coordinator of Academic Programs, Center for the First-Year Experience, Student Affairs 

Finals week can feel like the most stressful time of the semester.  To help you get through this week, stick to habits that help you study, destress, and maintain physical and mental well-being. 

Healthy habits are hard to start—and stick with—especially during an already challenging time. Do your best to take care of yourself and to be successful. You’re almost to the end of the semester—you’ve got this! 

Sleep. It’s easy to think the most important factor in academic success is how you study. Those habits are important, but your brain can’t process and remember information without sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep throughout exam week so you’ll have better concentration, and your exam preparation will be more productive. 

Organize your Study Space. Find a space to study where you feel comfortable—consider noise-level, lighting, and potential distractions. Put your phone and other distractions away; turn off notifications; and make sure your space is clean and organized. It’s great to have one dedicated spot for studying, and if you if you feel stuck, changing up your space might be helpful.  So, take a short break, find a new study spot, and choose a task you’d like to focus on or complete in that space. 

Spread Out Studying. Don’t try to cram for exams. Repetition is important to retain information, so have multiple study sessions for a specific course leading up to your scheduled exam. And you can’t concentrate on or retain information for long periods of time. It’s important to chunk out your study sessions into manageable blocks of time so you can better focus and remember information for exams. 

Create a Study Schedule. To stay on track, create a study schedule. Use your planner, calendar, or just a page in your notebook, and write out all the final exams you must prepare for and papers or projects you need to complete for finals week.  Break each larger task into smaller steps and include how long you expect each project and step to take—be realistic.  If you use a calendar, block off time for your commitments (class, club meetings, work, etc.). Next, block out time for sleep, meals, and physical activity. Use the rest of the space on your calendar to chunk out periods of study time.  Be specific. 

Take Breaks. Plan for breaks in your study schedule. Short breaks throughout your study session will help you recharge and refocus. Take meaningful breaks that get your mind off the material—move your body, grab a snack, drink water, or practice a short mindfulness exercise. 

Eat Healthy Foods and Drink Plenty of Water. You can’t keep going if you don’t refuel your body. Make sure you drink plenty of water (and don’t overdo the caffeine) and give your body lots of good foods.  Have snacks available for your scheduled study breaks. 

Find a Study Method that Works for You. Find a study partner; tell someone about the topic and what you know; create your own study guide by organizing exam content onto a single sheet of paper; write notes in your own words; create flowcharts or diagrams; use acronyms or associations; practice previous exam questions; or practice problems from the text. Find a method that works for you and recognize that these methods may change for different types of classes or subject areas. 

Academic and Study Support 

Greater University Tutoring Services— GUTS Study Day offers finals week support through drop-in tutoring services from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 16, at College Library. See the full daily drop-In schedule. 

Multicultural Student Center—The MSC offers academic support in the form of drop-in tutoring hours, study table or space reservation, and advising assistance.  Check out the MSC drop-in hours and services here. 

Library—College Library offers a variety of quiet and group study spaces and is open every day during regular semester sessions. Many services are available by on a walk-in basis, and you can make group study room reservations for a quiet place to study. 

The Writing Center—Schedule an individual appointment with The Writing Center or visit drop-in hours for help at any stage of your writing process as you work to submit final papers.  In-person or online appointments are available. 

This semester was hard, and you’re almost to the end. Good luck, Badgers. You’re doing it. Feel proud and take good care.