1 - A good night’s sleep
Studying for hours on end is worthless if you can’t remember any of it. Sleep is important for memory creation and retention, so if you get enough of it you won’t be stuck guessing halfway through your chem final. More than that though regular sleep helps to regulate mood. Success is often as much about attitude as it is aptitude and getting enough sleep will help to keep you feeling confident and ready going into finals week.
2 - Coffee, lots of coffee
Let’s face it, getting a good night’s sleep is the most banal pre-test advice ever. It sounds good but when you have more hours of reading than there are in a day something’s gotta give. That’s where coffee comes in to save the day. It’s warm enough to keep you warm as fall gives way to winter and strong enough to keep you awake as you slog through Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government. Plus, if you feel like your at the brink of passing out from exhaustion worry not. Drink a cup of coffee, nap for 15 minutes, then you’ll be feeling good as new. For a few hours at least, it’s not a miracle tonic.
3 - Some excellent television
They say that when you study it’s best to work in an environment free of distractions. I might not be a cognitive scientist, but I disagree. I’ve found that the best way to keep on task is to control the distraction. Personally I like to put on a TV show that I’ve seen a million times before, something that doesn’t demand your attention. My go-to shows are King of the Hill and Parks and Recreation. You’ll find yourself drifting from your studying. This is normal, it means you need to take a break. Since the show you’re watching is something you’ve seen before, you’ll find getting back on track to become much easier than if you had become distracted by algorithm driven social media designed to keep you scrolling all night.
4 - Your textbook
Let’s be honest, even when the syllabus says a textbook is required, most of the time it isn’t strictly necessary. Especially in introductory courses, where the book serves mainly to reinforce the information delivered in lecture, it can be easy to glide through a class without the book. And books are expensive after all, so it might feel like a fiduciary responsibility to go without. Still, when finals come, having a whole book full of relevant information can ease the pain of studying. Who knows, you might even learn something from it.
5 - Study buddies
No one wants to study. It’s boring and the textbooks bring with them a dangerously high risk of paper cut. Studying with friends can make even the most boring subject fun, and sometimes it’s nice to just have someone in the room even if your working on different subjects. I’ve heard it phrased as being alone but not by yourself and it can give you a sense of camaraderie going into finals, especially if this is your first year in college. And teaching is one of the best ways to learn something, so if you want to figure out how well you understand a topic explaining it to your friends who haven’t taken the class can give you a good barometer reading.
6 - Something to look forward to
As said above, success in finals has a lot to do with attitude. Having something to look forward to can give you some much needed motivation and a reminder that no matter how stressed you are now, it’ll all be over by the end of the week. You can do something big, I have a friend who’s rewarding himself with a new watch, but it doesn’t need to be. I’ll be grabbing a $5 Hot-and-Ready and playing Halo with my friends. The point is to find something to help you de-stress and relax as a way to reward yourself. You did it, you survived finals. It might not seem like much, but if you’ve taken this advice to heart you might have even passed them too.