We did it! We made it through another semester at UNH. You can count the days until finals begin on one hand… which is terrifying in its own way. Finals don’t have to be the most horrible part of the semester though. Here are some easy tips and tricks to get you through finals!
Step 1: Prep
Acing finals starts with how you prepare. Set aside time to make a game plan for how to study, when to relax, and how to celebrate being done with your finals!
Prioritize- Create a Study Plan
By now, you should know which days your exams are and when your term papers are due. Mark those dates on your calendar AND in your phone. Have a visual place where you can see everything you have coming up. Include not only your test dates, but start times for when to study, social events, and other reminders of things you need to do by the end of the semester. If you write everything out, try to color code to make things clearer visually. Put everything for one class in one color, social events in another, and so on.
Know Your Final
Before you plan any further, make sure you know what kind of final you’re taking for your classes, or even if your class is having a final during finals week! Some discovery courses opt to hold the final exam in the week or two before classes end, especially for the larger classes. If this is the case for you, congrats! You are probably already halfway done with finals and are in a much better, less stressed place than many of your classmates. If this isn’t the case for you, check with your professor. Are you having an exam? Is it multiple choice? Short answer? Can you use your notes? Do you have a term paper? How long? What kind of a paper is it? Is it due in person, by email, or on Blackboard? Do you need a blue book for that? Consider all of these questions and more when coming up with your finals study plan!
Not every exam or paper you need to work on is going to require the same amount of time and effort. Your five page analysis paper is, in most cases, not going to take as long to write as your ten page research paper. Your physics final exam is probably going to need a little more time dedicated to studying than your English 401 personal essay. Know your strengths, know what you struggled on throughout the semester. Once you know what YOU need to spend the most amount of time working on, take out your handy-dandy calendar and plan accordingly. Proportion your studying and writing to what you need to do to ace that final.
Know Your Notes
Now that you know what kind of final you are having and you’ve made a plan of attack, start organizing your notes. If you have a study guide, use that to figure out how to best organize how you will make your notes. If you are allowed to bring a note card or “cheat sheet” to your exam, start working on that while you study. It will make the night before your exam just a little shorter.
Take advantage of office hours before and during your studying. Find out when your professor’s finals hours are and if you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out. If you can’t make it to office hours, email them. You’ve had them all semester, there should be a way for you to get in contact with them.
Step 2: Study
You have your plan formed and now it is time to study. So find your quiet space or meet up with your group and get down to business.
If you are the kind of person who studies best in a group, ask around for people in your class who would be willing to meet up and study for the final together. If you can’t all meet in person, try creating a Google Doc and give everyone access to it to share notes. Even if your final is a term paper, writing individually but in a group setting may be beneficial as you can get feedback from a fresh set of eyes quicker than if you try emailing it to your mom.
Don’t feel pressured to join a study group though! Know how you study best. If you study best alone, then do that. Do what you need to do to succeed.
Talk It Out
This is easier done with a study group than if you are alone but try to talk through what you are studying, especially if you are struggling with understanding the material. Studies show that talking your way through a problem will help you better understand it and help you remember the information better for your exam. If you aren’t with a group, try calling your parents or some friends and just try to explain that equation or the plot to that eighteenth century novel. Even better if you can Skype it or do it in person!
White It Out
Take advantage of white boards! If you are in a study room with access to one, use it. Write out the equation and work through it. After you’ve solved, take a photo of the board and add it to your notes. This is great if you’re in a group so that you can work together to solve the problem.
We’ve all seen this tip before but I’ll say it again: Reward yourself along the way. Head on down to the vending machine and buy some fruit snacks or M&Ms and space them throughout your reading or notes. Use them as a rewards system for getting that far! If you’re working on an equation, give yourself one (or three) whenever you finish a problem correctly. Positive reinforcement can be a pretty useful (and tasty!) way to memorize items for your exam.
If your finals are all term papers, try writing out your outline for your paper and even the quotes you’re going to use. Put your reward at the end of each detail your planning on using or quote you’re planning to incorporate and when you use it, have your treat! Why should rewards be only for exam studying? (Am I right, English majors?)
Step 3: Relax
Finals are stressful enough. Don’t make things harder by denying yourself a chance to relax.
Take Care of Yourself
You should be doing this all throughout finals week but here is your reminder: take care of yourself. Drink lots of water, eat healthy, and remember to sleep. You won’t do as well if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Keep in mind how long you’ve been studying. The most effective studying is done with breaks mixed in, especially if you are going in between subjects. Try to study for twenty to fifty minutes at a time and then take a five to ten minute break. If you are going from, say, studying calculus to studying literature, try taking a fifteen minute break to clear your head. Turn back on the internet so that you can play that cool dinosaur game on Google chrome and play that until the dino runs into a cactus, or scroll through your Instagram feed. Set aside some time to clear your head and freshen up.
Thanks to our Campus Activities Board we get two amazing stress relief events a year. This spring CAB is bringing us Boston Nights, City Light to help us relax before finals begin. There will be pizza, smoothies, obstacles courses, and more all set up on Memorial Field. You can head over to relax and have some fun starting at 7pm on Monday (May 4).
Another great event before finals to help you unwind is May Day! This annual carnival is a great way to enjoy the last weekend before finals. Plus, it is a ton of fun. Take a ride on the zipper or see the animals at the petting zoo. Also, free giveaways. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
Frazzle Free Finals
Once finals officially begin, there are still events going on to help you unwind and get through finals without stressing out. UNH Health Services and Healthy UNH bring Frazzle Free Finals to the library with a bunch of activities May 5-7. Over these three days, they’ll help you to manage stress with Study Buddies (who doesn’t like getting to pet and play with dogs for hours on end? No one, that’s who), guided meditation, YoNola Bar, coloring therapy, chair massages, and hula hooping! The events go on throughout the day so make sure to stop by.
Work It Out
For some people, the best way to destress from finals and studying is to work out. The Hamel Rec Center is open until midnight during the week so no matter when you need to hit the treadmill or the racquetball courts, you can. If the gym isn’t for you but you really need to get up and move around, try heading out to college woods for a hike. The trails are easy and you can make your exploration as long or short as you want.
Finally, take some time to imagine yourself acing your finals. When you’re taking your seat, waiting for the exam to be passed out, or the night before as you’re laying in bed, picture yourself getting an A. This can help to lower the feeling of anxiety commonly associated with taking exams.
Step 4: Done
Finally (you see what I did there?) you are done! There are no tips in this section because you can finally say you are done with another year at UNH! For some, that means that it is almost time to put on your cap and gown and enjoy Commencement. For other it simply means time to enjoy the sun and start your shifts at summer jobs. No matter what though, it is time for a well deserved break from exams, papers, and homework. So finish packing up and moving out of your dorm and enjoy the summer!
See you in the fall, Wildcats!