10 Ways to Stay Alive During Finals Week

Finals week has not eaten all semester and it’s starting to get HUNGRY! Whether you have finals in 4 weeks or 6 weeks, here are 10 ways to study quickly and efficiently in order to survive finals week.

1. Start early: What are you doing?! Run! Don’t be like that person in the horror movies that is a deer in the headlights of their impending doom! If you plan ahead of time you’ll have more time to review difficult material and you’ll never have to cram the night before the test. You’ll almost always perform better when starting early. Use the time you have NOW to start planning!

2. Break it up: Split up your study session into the smallest pieces possible. The study tasks will be far less daunting and you’ll be much more productive if you study 2 pages of notes and take a 5 min break other than studying 15 pages with a 10 min break. However, in order to do this you must follow tip #1 and start early enough.

3. Walk it out: Change your environment and get a work out. Not only are studying and walking proven to help you study, but getting fresh air and your blood flowing to your brain and the rest of your body will help information retention as well. A British medical journal and the University of Illinois found that walking and other forms of exercise can improve memory and brain power. Besides, sitting on your butt and studying for hours straight isn't any fun! Get up, move around, and give your brain a break.

4. Teach it: Teaching is by far one of the best ways to assure that you have a firm understanding of the material. You must know the information at a high level in order to teach it to someone else and once you can teach it, you know you’re ready for the test. Find classmates who are in that same class as you, or even family members who don't know anything about the subject. Teach, teach, teach!

5. Learning style: If you’re a visual learner, use diagrams, maps, pictures, and color coded notes to help you study. If you’re an audio learner, record the lectures and listen to them while working out or walking on the treadmill. Tactile learners can practice the technique or write out the answers numerous times. Either way, find what strategy works best for you and run with it. Combine these learning styles too if needed!

6. Mental associations: Create mental associations by relating new material with something you already know. Create mnemonics and acronyms flashcards, listen to the same music, chew the same gum, study in the same place, and walk the same route all while you study to create associations to remember difficult material better.

7. Prioritize: Spend more time focusing on the more difficult exams or material you aren't as confident in. During that study session, switch to a less difficult subject. After that, come back to the more difficult material to prevent burnout and to test how much knowledge was retained.

8. Know the style: Study in a way that is coherent with the style of the exam. If the exam is multiple choice, know the concepts and definitions. If it's an essay or short answer type of exam, understand the concepts and be able to use examples. While you're studying, you could even start to formulate practice test questions based off of the style. Create a list of multiple choice questions and go back to review them as an assessment of your knowledge - this will help you learn the material even better.

9. Get rest: Get a good night’s sleep. Give your brain enough time to cement the new connections you’ve created while studying. Give your mind enough energy to perform well on the test.

10. Reward yourself: After you have successfully escaped your exams, be sure to relax your brain and reward yourself for your hard work.

Hope this helps you out in any way! Remember, prepare early and go into your finals confident. You got this!


-Casey Coleman, PT, DPT, Co-founder of Pre-PT Grind

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