Surviving Finals Week

18 May 2015


If you're heading into finals (or facing a major deadline), I'm guessing you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Or a lot overwhelmed! I've been through many final exams, papers, and projects in my academic life, and I like to think I've learned a bit about how to successfully get through it all. I can't promise you'll get through it with no problems... I probably had a good cry session every finals week! But that was just how I needed to let some of the pressure go and move on. I hope these tips will help you find ways to approach finals week with a little more confidence.
  1. Stay Calm... When the projects, papers, exams, and assignments start piling up toward the end of the term, it's important to remember that you've made it this far!  You've made it through the majority of the work, the bulk of the material, and all but a week or two of the course length. You can make it just a few more weeks!
  2. Stay Organized... Before you start studying, writing a paper, or working on a project, figure out exactly what you need to get done, what you need to get it done, and when you are going to get it done.  Your planner is your BFF during finals week. I love a good checklist and to map out what due dates are first/which tasks will take the most of my time so that I can prioritize accordingly. Make sure you have all the course material and whatever sources/supplies you might need to complete a paper or project. Also be sure to show up prepared for each exam - bring extra pencils, pens, paper, scantrons, blue/green books - whatever you need to feel ready and prepared.
  3. Get Creative... I'm very much a visual learner, so figuring how I am going to complete a project or how I am going to study is essential to my success. Remember that often times your teacher/professor only sees the final product - so how you get there is up to you! For me, this often means making flashcards for tests and using word/idea maps to brainstorm for papers and projects. Staring at a blank screen probably won't magically bring you an idea, and just reading through your textbook/notes probably won't help you retain information. You have to really engage with the material if you want to learn and come up with a great paper or project idea.
  4. Use The Buddy System... Studying with a friend not only gives you a chance to learn from each other, but also makes sure that you carve out time to actually study. Even if your best friends aren't in your classes, just getting together to study independently will help you to plan more study time and to relieve stress during study breaks. That being said, choose your study buddies wisely - some friends are more distracting than helpful! 
  5. Ask For Help... If you have a question about an assignment or exam, ask your teacher/professor.  It might prevent you from wasting time working on something that you might be doing wrong or studying something that you won't be tested on.  Also, ask your family and friends for help studying. Be sure to ask in advance, and to be specific. I've found that if you just say, "Hey, will you help me study?" you might not get the most enthusiastic response. But if you ask, "Will you help me study my art history flashcards after dinner tomorrow night?" it lets them know that you're going to be prepared to make the most of it, and they can plan around it too. 
  6. Take Care Of Yourself... It's especially important to take care of yourself when you're feeling stressed. Figure out ways that help you relieve stress and remember to take breaks for those things. I always study my flashcards in a bubble bath - it is a relaxing atmosphere for me to study in, and it also helped me destress after a long study session and before bed. Some students live in sweats during finals week. If that helps you feel relaxed and comfortable, go for it! Personally, I prefer to spend a little extra time on my outfit/make-up/hair to make myself feel more confident heading into a test or presentation. Also remember to get lots of sleep and pack snacks! Getting hungry during a test is definitely not ideal.
  7. Make It Fun!... When you've got major deadlines and a lot of pressure, it's the little things that will help you get through. For me, it's pretty colored pens to write with, special snacks/drinks, cute fuzzy socks, and bright sticky notes. For you, it might be typing in a funky font, listening to your favorite song every time you write a paragraph, or making up your own flashcard quiz-game-show. Whatever helps get you through it!
Remember to take it all one day at a time. Just think how AMAZING you'll feel when it's all over (and remember to celebrate yourself for getting through it). I wish you all the best of luck!



  1. This is great advice, Haley! I love the idea of using the Buddy System! And I am a leeeetle in love with that bullet journal of yours up there! It looks fantastic!

    1. Thanks so much! And I've never heard of Bullet Journaling, but from what I could tell from a google search it is definitely up my alley!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I'm a visual learner too, so whenever I'm prepping for law exams I end up with colour-coded flow charts everywhere!

    Obiter Darling

    1. Yeah! Flow charts are the best. I always had a stash of colored pens on me at all times - it helps you to remember information/connections, AND it looks cute! Win win. Thanks for reading :)