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Finals Week Survival Guide

Finals week, the academic marathon, is finally upon us. As if you haven’t been stressed enough already during the school year with assignments, projects and all sorts of tests & quizzes – now comes a deluge of exams! You have five to seven comprehensive tests in quick succession. Although this week can be scary, the proper preparation and mindset can make it seem like any other week. By proactively gathering all your study materials, making a plan to review them, and getting enough sleep so that you can study efficiently, you can dominate finals season.

Creating a study plan

When you don’t have a specific schedule or study plan, you lose your sense of focus and can easily end up wasting a lot of valuable time. By being proactive in creating a schedule, whether it be on your planner, a whiteboard, or a blank piece of paper, you can immediately visualize your tasks and responsibilities so that you can tackle them in a timely manner. Time management is key and whatever plan you devise, you need to stick to it. Here’s a quick checklist to help you set up your study plan:

  • Create a plan that works for YOU
    • Use a planner and/or whiteboard
    • Once items are finished, cross them off
    • Set up tutorial times with your teachers/professors
    • Input ALL correct dates & times of your finals into planner
  • Set specific time frames for studying AND for rest
    • 2:00pm – 3:30pm — review study guide & vocab
    • 3:30pm – 3:50pm — break – snack, check email
    • 3:50pm – 5:15pm — review comprehension check questions
    • 5:15pm – 6:00pm — break – dinner
  • Retrieve all important materials and sort by subject
    • Stay organized throughout the entire school year
    • Create a binder system in the beginning of the year
    • Keep all subject materials in their respective locations within the binder
  • Form study groups with the right people
    • Choose study partners wisely
    • Close friends may not be the best solution
    • At times, studying individually may be the best solution
  • Choose a productive studying environment:
    • Comfortable (your couch, bedroom, etc.) probably won’t work
    • Get out of your house to avoid any distractions if necessary
    • Set up your “war room” with everything you need so that you don’t have to waste time retrieving things.

Rest Is Productive

Something as easy as taking a nap during the day or sleeping a certain number of hours per night, can easily be overlooked during finals week. Students have so much pressure to study hard so they can succeed, and they end up forgetting how important they need rest in order to do well on finals. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, getting enough sleep helps your brain work properly by helping you pay attention and make good decisions, as well as enhancing your learning and problem-solving skills. Here are some quick tips for making break time productive:

  • Don’t pull all-nighters
    • Forcing yourself to not sleep is counterproductive
    • Tired brains cannot retain information
    • Alertness, focus, and performance WILL decrease
  • Instead, plan nap times in your planner / calendar / whiteboard
  • Allow yourself to sleep between 6-8 hours every night
  • Check out this blog post for more tips on taking breaks

Eating well

It’s easy to lose track of our diet when you are grinding through finals week. Sit down meals become rare and fast-food choices become popular. However, if you aren’t fueling your body with the right nutrients during your intense days of studying, you won’t have the energy to excel you through the exams. Here are our nutrition tips for finals week:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
    • Bring water bottles with you wherever you go
  • Eat your regular meals throughout the day
    • High fats and sugars can make you feel sluggish
    • Fruits, veggies, and high-protein foods will keep you energized
  • Plan meals and snacks for your study days
    • Pack certain fruits and nuts when you’re out studying
    • Make notes in your planner to buy healthy snacks

You have control over your schedule and your life. Leave all stress and anxieties at the door because it doesn’t benefit you in any way. Eat well, drink plenty of fluids, and allow your body to rest. Focus on the plan that you have created and stay on task with every item that you planned out. Finals can be stressful, but they aren’t the end of the world. By following this guide, you can ensure success on your exams.

For more tips about productively using breaks, studying, and creating the ultimate study space, check out these blog posts:





Evan Weinberger


Staying Ahead of the Game offers unique academic coaching & tutoring services to help good students achieve greatness.

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