How to stay alive and succeed during finals week

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

With the end of the semester, the blight draws near.

But worry not fellow students; cast away your fear.

Finals return, forty thousand brains go numb.

But there are many wise finals’ tips to draw from.

With hope of removing some of the drear, 

The Editorial Board wishes to leave you with some tips right here.


Get some sleep.

Don’t go through finals week as a zombie — get some Zs. As tempting as it is to be a cliche college student, pulling all-nighters during finals week really isn’t a good idea. A lack of sleep can hinder your ability to both study for and take your final and, in most cases, napping by itself is not enough to keep you at optimal performance. In fact, most students require 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep a day to stave off a variety of maladies related to sleep deprivation, such as drowsiness and low energy. 


Know when to stop and take a break.

You can only retain so much information during any one study session, so don’t overexert yourself. Periodic concentrated study sessions interspersed with breaks can ensure you remain fresh while prepping for your exams. Consider taking in the beauty of our fresh frozen tundra with a study break walk around campus. If that doesn’t wake you up, check your pulse. 


Keep some variety in your studying.

Spice up your study sessions by regularly changing subjects. Instead of, “Today I will focus on Molecular and Cellular Biology,” consider allocating two hours to one exam, taking a break, then two hours to a different course, and so on. Planning out regular alternation can help ensure equal preparation across your classes and keep you from burning out on a particular subject.


Keep a regular workout schedule.

Don’t use finals as an excuse to skip the gym. Keeping your body fit is a good step toward a sharp mind. Swim at the ARC, workout at CRCE, do crunches in your dorm room. Many students have a regular workout regime during the school year. Don’t upset the rhythm your body has fallen into just because you have finals, plan around the them. Regular exercise can be a great way to relieve exam stress and anxiety.


Eat well.

While it can tempting to stress eat a bounty of junk food during finals, consider keeping some healthier alternatives on hand that may also boost your brain function. Consider fish or nuts as means of getting your daily omega-3 fatty acids, linked to learning and memory. Snack on fresh berries, many, like strawberries, cranberries and blueberries, contain antioxidants and flavonoids that can increase blood flow to the brain and improve memory. Nuts and beans are great ways to get some protein while maintaining your glucose level, the fuel your brain runs on.


Take a rain check on finals week parties.

Is your best friend’s 21st birthday the day before your Astronomy exam? As much as you may want some kind of escape from your textbooks, consider skipping on parties that cut out significant chunks of your study time that will probably leave your ability to study impaired.


Treat a final as final.

After that brief sense of relief following handing in your exam to the proctor, the pains of uncertainty begin: “What if I marked A instead of C?” “Was the z-score really 15?” “Were there questions on that last page?” While some of this rumination is inevitable, don’t let it control the rest of your finals or winter break. After you finish a final, close the book on that course and move on. Continuing to think through how you could have done on a final can create unneeded stress that could prove detrimental to your success on later exams. Not discussing exam specifics with others can also help.