Exam Survival 101 (feat. College Student)

Bani Ghai
Written by Bani Ghai

No matter where we go to school, every student dreads the mere thought of “finals week.” This is when our self-discipline, control, and our intelligence is put to the test. Finals week often brings out the worst in the best of students, creating an environment in which the word “stress” marinates in every student’s brain.

As students of today’s fast-paced education system, we often lose ourselves in the stress and craziness of exam season. The words “stress-free” and “exams” never seem to fit in the same sentence. They just do not cooperate or coexist. However, in order to survive finals week without Frankenstein as the outcome, we must learn to limit the stress we place on ourselves so that we can thrive in the environment in which we learn.

Being stress-free is always easier said than done. In fact, the word is a fallacy because as humans we will always be stressed about one thing or another. It’s all about the self-control tied to the stress. There are many ways we can avoid copious amounts of stress that tag along with finals week.

Stress control was best explained through the words of Carol Moran-Brown, senior director of the Counseling Center at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt. She said, “Staying stress-free is important, but stress is not inherently bad for students. There is an ideal level of stress for each one of us, which helps motivate us to do our best. When we are functioning at that ideal level, we are sufficiently pushed to do our best, yet not paralyzed by the results of excessive stress. The goal is to find the ideal stress level and then try to stay there.”

It is all about the balance. Find that equilibrium.

Here are a few things you can do to mitigate the tension before conquering those exams:

  1. Exercise– get that oxygen flow going.

  2. Stay hydrated.

  3. Eat healthy meals and snacks — nourish your body. Very important!

  4. Breathe and focus on not overwhelming yourself.

  5. Eat a meal prior to taking your exam. You’ll focus better.

  6. Do NOT pull an all-nighter. I repeat, DO NOT!

  7. Limit your caffeine intake. Or, at least try.

  8. Take frequent breaks and let your brain catch up to you. They feel good.

  9. Study in a productive environment.

  10. Prioritize and plan your study schedule. Otherwise you cannot do 1 through 9.

  11. Don’t be afraid to ask those around you for help. They won’t bite.

  12. Use your resources– peers, professors, TA’s, study groups, etc…

  13. Limit outside distractions– such as social media, texting, and taking selfies.

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