A Guide to Getting Through Finals Week

Young man stressed for final exams

For many students, the idea of finals week brings a sense of dread. It can easily become something that stops you from enjoying all the fun things about the end of the year. A common way to cope is to spend every minute of the days leading up to your finals studying and living off caffeine to pull all-nighters. However, these tactics don’t tend to pay off. If you want to survive finals week and achieve good grades, you’ll need to change your strategy completely.

1. Start Preparing Early

It’s impossible to retain a huge amount of information in a short period of time. To be prepared for your exams, you should start studying long before finals week. Prioritize the material you find the most difficult, even though it’s likely to be the least appealing.

2. Create a Study Schedule

To commit to preparing for your finals early, draw up a study schedule. In your calendar, specify what you’ll study at what time. Keeping each session short and covering a few classes each day should help you stay focused.

3. Switch Up Your Study Tactics

You’ll need to tailor your approach according to the format of the exam. Some exams may require you to remember facts, whereas others may want you to apply what you’ve learned to new situations or tackle problems in an analytical way.

Whatever you decide to do, avoid simply rereading textbooks. Instead, use active learning techniques, such as flashcards, practice questions, study guides, and quizzes.

4. Form a Study Group

There’s no need to do all your studying alone. In fact, studying in a group can aid your understanding. Join a group of classmates who you know will be committed to focusing on the material and who won’t use the study group as an opportunity to socialize. Use tactics like asking each other questions — being able to explain concepts to someone else is a great indicator you fully understand.

5. Find the Right Place to Study

No matter if you’re studying alone or in a group, you need somewhere you can focus without distractions. This could be the desk in your bedroom, your living room, the campus library, or even a coffee shop. Some people find it easier to study with some background noise, whereas others require silence — you’ll need to figure out what works best for you. It may also be worth changing location occasionally.

6. Figure Out the Logistics for Your Exams

You’ll feel less stressed if you know when and where your exams are taking place, as you’ll be able to plan how you’ll reach each one. It’s also important to check your schedule early in case you have multiple exams on the same day. If this happens to you, it can be worth talking to your professors about the option to take one of your exams at a different time.

7. Reward Yourself Between Exams

Unless you have another exam soon after the one you’ve just finished, reward yourself with a break instead of going straight back to studying. A simple treat like your favourite lunch or even a nap can help you feel more mentally prepared to continue finals week.

You’ll be able to dedicate less time to studying if you make sure every minute counts. To have a quiet place at home where you can focus, you need to move out of student residence. Waterloo students can find a new home at Preston House or Bridgeport House. Both are just steps from campus and provide you with a private bedroom with an en suite bathroom. When you want a change of scenery, you can head to an onsite WiFi study space. Book a tour of the property of your choice.