The Best Finals Week Practices


Hurricane Irma’s projected path. Image from The Weather Channel.

Dana Lark

The daydream of a semester’s end is now over. With that beautiful reality comes the dreaded, unavoidable and all-consuming week of finals.

To a certain degree, it is guaranteed misery. However, the extent of that misery is completely up to you.

All’s not lost and you do have control over a few simple things that are guaranteed to lower the stress levels. Implement these best practices into your finals preparation to ensure a smooth transition into winter break.


    1. Sleep


Don’t cheat yourself on sleep. This is the most simple, straightforward tip in the book. The National Sleep Foundation has one job… which is to study sleep. They recommend college-aged adults get 7-9 hours of sleep. Our overall usefulness at any task stems from this simple necessity. Use your waking hours wisely and eliminate the all-nighter from your vocabulary.




Never underestimate the power of an old-school, handwritten flash card. There’s already a multitude of existing research on the benefits of writing notes over typing notes when it comes to committing pertinent concepts to your memory. Writing and studying your own flash cards will boost your test scores and your confidence. Making flash cards is a tangible result of your studying efforts.  




While lost in the black hole of studying, it’s easy to forget the little things. Hydrating is easily overlooked, but it’s just as important as sleep regarding cognitive function. And no, we’re not talking about Diet Coke. Think of water as medicine. You may not want it, but it’s beneficial to your brain and body. Some of us are gifted with natural water-drinking habits, and if you’re one of them you are already a step ahead. Just don’t forget to reach for the cup.




This is naturally my favorite tip to execute. Instead of letting time slip away from you and thus, your productivity, set a timer for both work and play time. Try not to spend more than 50 minutes without giving yourself a timed 10-minute break to step outside or engage in a enjoyable, mindless activity. Equal in importance is an indulgent form of food. This is a little present for your dedication. I’m talking Zaxby’s. Dare I say, Cookout? It need not look pretty, but it should make you happy. It’s the little luxuries at this point.




Preparation is the key to success. If you truly want to do well on your finals, allot time –at the bare minimum the day before– to begin the bulk of your studying. Brushing up on the key concepts and flipping through flashcards the day of is encouraged, but the prep work should take place at least 24 hours prior to the test. Remember what I said about confidence? No one feels confident walking into a test that was solely studied for that morning.