The Student Connection

Making the Most of Finals Week

Finals Week at The Student ConnectionSo here we are … again. It’s finals week.

Your spiral notebook is full, the required reading is highlighted, flashcards are completed with formulas to memorize, the margins of novels are annotated, and your brain is weary, spent, and worn.

What are the best ways to get through to the end of the week — despite the anxiety? The exhaustion? The fatigue?

What follows is a quick list of things proven to work.

    • Pull All Exams and Quizzes. Mr. Michael Godvin, Math Tutor, says: “Focus on just looking over the problems and understanding how to solve them.” Mr. G says, “Do not go overboard by doing every single problem. If you focus on details at that level you will frustrate yourself.” Mr. G. also suggests going over the reviews from the textbooks and from your instructor.
    • Eat Superfoods And Antioxidants(1). On the day of the big test, eat breakfast. And try oatmeal instead of cereal because high-carb, high-fiber, slow-digesting foods work best the day of the exam because they are more filling.
    • Eat Well The Week Of Finals. Cameron Holloway, a senior clinical researcher at the University of Oxford, says that students who eat a balanced diet that includes fruit and vegetables, hold steady with attention and thinking speed. Students who eat high-fat, low-carb diet heavy on meat, eggs, cheese and cream show declines in attention and thinking speed.
    • Do Twenty Minutes of Cardio a Day(2). Exercise boosts your brain power. Your memory can be improved in as little as twenty minutes of walking, jogging, or swimming.
    • Make a Study Schedule(3). Mrs. Godvin, Academic Success Coach, says, “Make a study schedule, follow it, and you will have less stress!” Be sure to list what needs to be done by when. Mrs. G. says “Include study breaks. Start with 10 minutes every hour and as the day wears on, take 15 minute breaks every 45 minutes of study.” Identify the time of day you are at your best and do your heaviest studying then.
    • Take Naps(4). If you have read the same thing five times and it’s not sticking, then it’s time for a power nap. Just make sure you have multiple alarms so you do not over sleep.
    • Stay Hydrated. Pick up a bottle of water and take it with you. Don’t overdo the coffee and switch to tea.

Finals week is a stressful time for all students.  These tips can help you de-stress, stay focused, and do the best you can!

— Kathleen Gillespie, PhD



(1) Superfoods include: Almonds, Apples, Greek Yogurt, Quinoa, Bananas, Beans & Lentils, Beets, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Carrots, Cherries, Dark Chocolate

(2) For more on exercise and brain power, see: fitness/articles/how-exercise-boosts-your-brainpower

(3) Say “No” to cramming!

Study in increments of 20 to 50 minutes to space learning over intervals which moves the information into your memory much better than cramming. For more on learning over time, see:

(4) For extra insurance waking up on time, try apps like “I Can’t Wake Up!” which let you customize tasks that firmly push you to full alertness.

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