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Top Ten Survival Tips for Finals Week

In honor of all you students out there approaching final exam week, here are some go-to tips for surviving and thriving during what is arguably the most difficult week of the semester.

1. Get plenty of rest. There’s a very real reason why sleep deprivation is sometimes used as a method of torture. A number of scientific studies have demonstrated that without adequate rest, people have difficulty concentrating on tasks, a decreased attention span, feel sluggish and short-circuit their short term memory. So yeah, don’t do that. Take care of your brain and get your z’s.

2. Get exercise and fresh air. Exercise isn’t just good bikini-season prep; it’s about increasing your brain function. If you are already a regular exerciser, finals week is NOT the time to stop. Make time for a 20 or 30-minute walk, do some calisthenics, get your body moving and your blood flowing and your brain will thank you for it.

3. Eat healthfully. You know that saying, “You are what you eat?” There’s truth in that. If you’re fueling yourself up with high loads of sugar and empty carbs, you’re bound to experience some short term bursts of energy followed by some very inconvenient crashes. It’s important to take care of yourself by feeding your brain and body the nutrients it needs to function well during stress – fruits and veggies, lean proteins, whole grains are the way to go.

4. Mix it up a little. Odds are good that by now you’ve uncovered your optimum study methods. Whether that’s using flashcards, outlines, self-quizzing, multi-media presentations (don’t judge me, it helped); you’ve found the tools that work for you. Varying your routine a little bit will help keep yourself on your toes. It might sound cheesy, but it works.

5. Take sanity breaks. You might be awesome, but you’re not superhuman. Your brain can only take so much, so give it time to process and absorb by taking ten or fifteen minutes for every hour of study. Make sure to set an alarm if you need to, so you don’t get distracted by The Walking Dead marathon or Call of Duty.

6. Laugh a little. Yes, you’ve been working hard. Yes, these exams are important, as is your grade, as is your soon-to-be-obtained degree or certificate. But, in the same vein as tip number 5, take a little time to lighten up, laugh a little and keep a healthy perspective.

7. Be selective in your study buddies. No, this tip isn’t about picking the most attractive boy/girl in your class as a study partner. It’s about making sure any study partner you select is someone who is serious about learning, who will challenge you and make the most of your study time instead of treating you like their personal tutor.

8. Brush up on your exam taking skills. The way you approach exams can be a test all unto itself. Do you breeze through multiple choice exams, answering the questions you know first and then return to the “stumpers” at the end? If it’s been a while since you’ve taken an exam, you might want to check out this article.

9. Resist the urge to party in between tests. You might be overcome with the urge to celebrate after taking your first exam. Nobody would blame you. But don’t. Because when there’s party time, there’s recovery time required. During finals week, there’s not really “off” time. Use your breaks to tackle tips #1-8.

10. When it’s over, it’s over. When the big day arrives, give it everything you’ve got. And let it be done. Don’t dwell on your test performance. Move on. If you happen to have major concerns, make an appointment with your professor to discuss them during his or her conference hours.

You’re almost there, students! That light at the end of the tunnel is shining for you – and it’s not a train. Best of luck to you!

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