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Surviving Finals Week in College

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Finals week can be a nightmare for any college student. The culmination of weeks and weeks of instruction into a single set of elaborate and difficult examinations can be a major cause for stress and many college students find themselves panicking when finals roll around. Professional writers at Ultius created this academic writing guide and final exams tips to help you survive finals week, so please continue reading if you'd like some advice on how to deal with the stress of examinations.

Surviving finals week in college

It’s crunch time. Assignments are piling up. Deadlines are on the horizon. Study groups are forming. Libraries are packed. All-nighters are de rigueur. You’ve mastered the art of rolling out of bed two minutes before class and still getting to your seat just in time. Your coffee machine is brewing pot after pot of coffee twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You start to look like a zombie, but that’s ok--everyone else on campus looks like a zombie, too.

Students from all walks of life, meandering the halls going from one class to another asking each other, “What does it all mean?!” And when it’s all over, you can relax...sort of. You still have to wait with bated breath for your grades. And then this cycle repeats itself again in a few months. What a crazy life have we chosen for ourselves that seems to be stuck on the repeat button of life? It’s the dreaded finals week.

Lower stress levels

Fortunately, there are things that we can do that can slightly minimize our stress-levels from astronomical down to manageable. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is a time in your life that shall also pass. Just like students before us survived, we too will survive. It seems daunting and impossible at the time, but with a few measures to keep us level-headed, we are sure to stay afloat even while we try to navigate those tumultuous seas. Here are some things to keep in mind in the months, weeks, and even days leading up to your final. When you reduce stress during finals, you won't have to de-stress the following week.

Attend class

Go to class! While this may seem like the most glaringly obvious statement, let’s face it--we have all fallen into the trap of our comfortable bed or just didn’t feel like sitting in a room for an hour and listening to a professor or TA rant on and on about something that we might never need to know again. There will always be other things that feel more important at the time. But class takes place for a reason. Skipping for fickle reasons will have consequences and might have you miss crucial points that would not have otherwise been covered.

Of course, there are exceptions and circumstances beyond our control and if you must be absent, be sure to talk to your teacher to obtain notes and to see if there is any material you need to make up. Most fellow students would be happy to oblige as long as the favor can be returned to them sometime down the line. And most teachers will be pleased at your interest in the class.

Review past exams

Review and study past tests you’ve had in that class. This is one of the most important study tools you may already have and not realize it. Instead of trying to read the textbook from cover to cover, take a look at those old exams. It’s safe to assume that the questions and essays that were covered in those exams will most likely be a part of your final exam as well. Any mistakes or anything you may have overlooked will have been corrected, often times by the teacher himself, thus giving you a head start on what kinds of answers he is looking for. Review those tests along with your notes from class to gain a complete understanding of what to expect. Download a homework and study app to help organize your notes and make studying easier.

Talk to peers

Talk to your peers. Whether this is in the form of a study group or a one-on-one conversation with someone who’s already taken the class, listening to her perspective on how the final exam was could give you insight that may be relieving. You may be nervous about what kind of exam to expect. Talking to someone would almost feel like a personal tutoring session. Isn’t that something that you should take advantage of?

Review sessions

Attend review and study sessions. You may be surprised to learn that your professor or TA plans on holding a study session a few days before the final. You see, they want you to pass their class, too! This is probably the most important piece of advice you could take when it comes to finals. The study sessions are often times not mandatory, but it would be a missed opportunity if you didn’t attend. Some professors actually will give you the exact questions to the final during these sessions. It’s a no-brainer and your not-so-best-kept-secret.

Now that you’ve covered the bases, studied until you felt like you couldn’t retain any more information, and gotten by on the most minimal amount of sleep, you’ve reached the big day. Feeling refreshed and recharged certainly will help you plow through those last exams. What you put in your mind is important, of course. But what you put in your body and how you treat your body to help your mind function is just as integral. Taking care of yourself not only helps you study for an exam, it reduces those dreaded Freshman 15.

Get some sleep

Get a full-night’s rest. While this may seem impossible during those last few days, you need your mind and body to be working at optimal or near optimal levels. A sharp mind comes from waking after a fully-rested state. When your body is relaxed, your brain performs at a non-stressed level, making for clearer and faster thinking.


Hydrate! Feeling dehydrated in the middle of your exam would be a major distraction and might make you feel more tired than you really are. Shoot for eight 8 ounce glasses of water on a daily basis to keep hydration in tact.

Eat healthy

Eat breakfast! And lunch. And dinner. Skipping meals during this time would only be detrimental to your success. An empty stomach can make you lose focus and have your mind start wandering. A balanced meal of healthy fats, lean proteins, and leafy greens are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. On top of that, they’ll satiate you and provide the essential nutrients you’ll need to keep on truckin’. Take a nutrition education class to help prevent obesity and energize your brain.

Finals “season” in college is no joke. It is one of the most trying times in student life. It is important to keep a healthy perspective during this time, too. Many of us feel over-stressed and over-worked which can spark the chain of negative thinking. Negativity has no place or time in finals week. Once we start second-guessing our abilities, we become unsure of how much we actually can accomplish. Believing in yourself and knowing that, at the end of the day, it’s just a test, helps keep that perspective in check.

Finals shouldn’t be a scary time in your life, so don’t treat it as such. Yes, it will be difficult. Yes, it will push you hard and at times drive you crazy. But it is something that all of us can get through. Even when you think that you’re not prepared, just have faith that by taking all of the advice dished out to you seriously and by putting them in practice, you’ll be more ready than you give yourself credit for.

You'll be fine

Take the above points and make the most of it. You might find that you’ll surprise yourself with just how seamless finals week can be. With the right amount of preparation and rest, you’ll be able to come out on top. And when it’s all over, and you get that passing grade you were waiting for, you can actually sit back and and have the satisfaction to enjoy your holidays. Isn’t that what makes it all worthwhile?

Still studying for finals? Here are 10 crazy ways to get through finals.



Ultius, Inc. "Surviving Finals Week in College." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 03 Apr. 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/surviving-finals-week-in-college.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2014, April 03). Surviving Finals Week in College. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/surviving-finals-week-in-college.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Surviving Finals Week in College." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. April 03, 2014 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/surviving-finals-week-in-college.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Surviving Finals Week in College." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. April 03, 2014 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/surviving-finals-week-in-college.html.

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