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    16 Finals Week Tips To Stay Feeling Stress-Free

    Times are tough, virtual learning is tougher, and finals are the cherry on top we never really wanted.

    Finals week may be coming up or may be what feels like eons away, but are 16 tips to help you prepare for finals throughout your semester so you get the best of what college has to offer.

    1. Create a schedule to effectively divide up study time for each class

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    It can get quite stressful when assignments pile up that require your attention. Think of it as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but with papers. Each item needs to be given special attention to make sure you are taking in the correct amount of information. It is definitely a daunting thought at first.

    If you don't have a planner, get one. Create a schedule for assignment deadlines and exam dates to make sure nothing is unexpected. For each class, reserve a day where all your focus is on that class. Don't enjoy cramming everything into one day? Break studying/coursework up into manageable pieces throughout the day/week and work through it at your own pace. Maybe check out the Pomodoro study method that's explained later in this article to stay mentally fresh. These methods allow you to space out your study and not cram everything all at once, or possibly even last-minute.

    2. Keep track of chapters you don't fully understand throughout the semester

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    In our increasingly virtual world, many fellow classmates concede to the temptation of plowing through weekly homework by Googling as a sport. We’re all human, and sometimes, certain humans want full points on homework instead of complete understanding. This is a message to all you academic heretics reading this: Keep track of chapters you’ve Googled your way out of learning. This way, you know what material to focus on during exam prep and a ballpark of how long it should take to cover.

    If you’re guilty of indulging in these forbidden practices, you may think you’ve gotten away with a capital crime, but your professors are aware of these fraudulent maneuvers. They are patiently waiting to see how you handle exams via infamous-yet-necessary exam proctoring software. Softwares like ProctorU and Lockdown Browser are professors’ most lucrative tools in ensuring your actual knowledge is being tested at home, and more importantly, being punished for not.

    “Make sure you know what you don’t know, so they don’t know you don’t know, because now, you know, you know?” —Unnamed Scholarly Intellectual (it me)

    3. Make a study group for each class

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    What's the saying again, "two heads are better than one?" Sometimes working with other people cannot only make the experience more enjoyable, but bearable. Studying alone can lead to more procrastination and lead to nothing being done. However, when there are people with the same end goal, we actually move towards it. Which, unfortunately, means less time on Instagram. You know who you are.

    Start off with finding members from your classes and create a schedule with them when available to study. To be more productive, you can also create a list of what points you want to study during the session. This gives you all an initiative to strive for and ensure that you have hit every point you needed.

    4. Limit distractions and procrastination

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    When you finally sit down to work on some assignments or do some studying for an exam, then suddenly your phone starts going off with text messages, Facetime calls, social media notifications, etc. This is the easiest way to get distracted these days, but fortunately, there are options provided by these devices to help keep your phone toned down or quiet. You can turn off notifications, set your phone on airplane mode, silence it, or simply turn it off completely. These messages and social media can wait because they are not more important than your studies.

    Sometimes people can be distractions, too, and that’s why you must be able to seclude yourself for just a couple of hours in order to complete your work. Go somewhere quiet in your house, go to the public library, go to a relative's home who lives alone or ask to stay in their house while they work.

    Last but not least, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! This is the most stressful thing a person can do. All it does is pile everything up and make life more difficult for you. This can also destroy your motivation because you will feel like you cannot complete everything on time and simply give up.

    5. Reconsider multitasking with the Pomodoro Technique

    a list of the pomodoro technique steps
    Canva/Anna Kopsky

    For those of us who struggle with managing their time, staying focused, or staying mentally fresh, the Pomodoro Technique could do you wonders. All you need is a to-do list and a timer, which luckily most of us have on our phones. The idea is that you set a timer for 25 minutes, work on to-do item(s), and stop when the timer rings. These 25-minute periods are considered one Pomodoro. After every Pomodoro, you mark one as completed and take a 5-minute break. Once four Pomodoros have been completed, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.

    6. Don't be afraid of office hours

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    When we have trouble understanding material, it’s easy to think we’re just not compatible with the material. We’ll continue relying on rereading textbook chapters, Googling questions, and other avenues instead of straight-up asking the professor for help. Most professors will have official office hours on the syllabus or office hours by appointment. They’re not just there for show, because your academic failures and/or poor performance won’t reflect well on the professors in the end. Professors will generally give their best effort in helping you understand their course. The best thing you can do to get a full understanding of the material is to set aside time to attend these hours for help or email the professor to figure out a time that works for both of you.

    7. Change the way you take notes! (The Outlining Method)

    the outline method steps
    Anna Kopsky

    Have you ever struggled to create consistent notes? With every teacher and professor offering their knowledge in different formats, a tried-and-true way to staying organized is adopting a note-taking method that works for you. There are plenty of methods to note-taking, some provide more help than others, but it’s all about finding what’s right for you! Whether you’re a visual learner or have your nose in the books, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

    Not sure where to start? Nothing beats the traditional outlining method. The way it works is through indenting. General topics start at the left and each fact gets indented in accordance with its specifications, creating a ladder-like effect across all topics. Numerals can be used but are not required.

    8. The Cornell Method (More Note-Taking)

    cornell method
    Anna Kopsky

    If you need a note-taking method that’s guaranteed to work for anyone on the study grind, then you’ve come to the right place. The Cornell Method is utilized to condense notes without word-by-word recopying. Start by creating a 2-inch column on the left side of your paper for your cue section, while simultaneously creating a 6-inch note-taking area. Make sure to leave a 2-inch row at the bottom of the page for your later summary. At this point your paper should look like the photo above.

    You will start by jotting down any and all relevant and important information on the topic at hand, skip a line for each new topic introduced. Once you are done recording your key takeaways from the lecture, go back and read through what you wrote down and add a cue to each significant piece of information. When you are studying the cues can be used as flashcard topics and your notes as the answers. Once you feel you have mastered the topic, summarize the page in two sentences or less to take your note-taking skills to the test!

    9. The Charting Method (Even More Note-Taking)

    Layout of the Charting Note-Taking Method
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    More of a visual learner? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! The Charting Method is another great note-taking skill in which all information recorded coincides with a respective category. This should include major dates, keywords, events, formulas, etc. Ideally, the Charting Method is designed to be set up in chronological order.

    10. Prioritize your exams and studying

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    Plan what you will focus on first. Don’t start to study or complete assignments for other courses that are not due soon or simply do not weigh heavier than the upcoming exam. You don’t want to spend time on those smaller assignments until you are burnt out. I know it can get overwhelming dealing with multiple assignments and other things in life, but you must be able to prioritize in order to save you time, stress, and money (especially if you fail the course).

    11. Good time management during the exam

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    So we all know the stressful and nerve-wracking feeling of exam day. The professor will hand out the exams and once every student has a copy, the professor will yell out, “you have 60 minutes to complete this exam!” Don’t panic.

    The key is simple: do not spend too much time on any one question. If you do not know the answer, flag it and come back to it later because it’s not worth missing more than half the exam because you stayed on one question. There is one exception to this tip, and that is if your courses are online with no backtracking to questions. At this point you — if you do not know the answer — then take your best educated guess on it. Here’s another tip: sometimes the answer to a question you flag for later can be found in a different question in the exam.

    12. Reach out to your support network

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    I know what you are probably thinking: What? I don’t have a support network. I’m here to tell you that you100% do have one, but you just don’t know it yet. I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed or worried, I can sometimes keep to myself. However, all you have to do is call a friend, family member, an old coworker, or even Brian from that one time you went to Subway in Atlantic City. The point is to use those around you who you trust and care about. They want you to succeed as much as you do!

    Don’t have anyone you feel comfortable reaching out to? Try finding a community online! There are plenty of discussion boards and Subreddits to help you. You just gotta find the right one!

    13. Take time for yourself

    woman with cucumbers on eyes getting head massage
    NBC

    With studying, time-management, and every other aspect of life crowding your thoughts, it can be really difficult to focus on self-improvement. Sure, studying is important and it's nice to get good grades, but sacrificing your mental and physical health for the sake of academics isn’t worth it. Go for a walk, go to the gym, play video games, watch an episode of “The Office” (again). As long as it is something you enjoy and makes you feel more at ease, then go for it. Just make sure to limit how long you take a break from studying. Balance is key, so if you spend too much time watching Jim prank Dwight and not studying, you’re gonna have a bad time!

    14. Take advantage of school-sponsored resources

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    We know that it isn’t always “cool” to go to a dorm event that your RA swears is going to be “a ton of fun," but most likely, your school will have resources and options for you to be your best self. Do you want to vent to a professional? Many schools have therapists that work for the university, and they are usually free or require a small fee! Want to be more active? Join a club or intramural team to help burn some energy, make friends, and feel relaxed when you finally crack open that textbook. The options are endless: relaxation rooms, meditation, acapella groups, even the knitting club (if that is more your speed, which is fine, we don’t judge).

    The main point here is to expand your horizons. College is more than just grades; it's about finding yourself and engaging in new experiences. So make sure to balance that note-taking and reviewing with some fun extra-curricular activities!

    15. Do some mindful exercises to calm yourself

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    During finals week, your mind can be all over the place. They don't call it Hell Week for no reason, right? Usually, it can be hard to focus on anything during this time, let alone the materials you need to study. That is why it's crucial to first refocus your mind, which means taking a few minutes to do simple mindful exercises.

    You can do a simple one by closing your eyes and focusing on a sound in your room. While your eyes are closed, take deep breaths in and out, really focus on the breathing. Focus on the air coming into your body and leaving your body. Try doing this for at least 3 minutes. This should help clear your mind while focusing on one thing your body needs rather than 200 other things.

    16. And get a good night's rest

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    This is probably the most important tip of them all. Without a good night's rest, you will not be able to function 100%. Running on little-to-no sleep is not healthy and will drain you in the end. You will lose motivation and care about nothing because all you will want to do is go to sleep. Sleeping well the night before an exam will have you feel alive and rejuvenated and that will help you focus on your exams and studies, and make you feel motivated.