Ways to stay calm during the semester’s most significant exams
You know it. I know it. The teachers even know it. The weight of finals is the one thing on everyone’s minds as soon as winter break ends, but some of us still find reasons to put off studying. Ultimately, we cram, which is really the root of why the week is so stressful.
Staying calm, though, is actually one of your best study strategies—and luckily, there are multiple ways to keep your zen during one of the most brutal times of your high school career.
First, treat studying as if it is an English essay due the next day worth a whopping eighty points in the Writing category. If you engrave this type of mentality in your brain about a week before your exams, you will be more likely to commit to staying up a few minutes later during the weekdays to review your notes. The progressive accumulation of the information you absorb will actually help retain them more once finals day rolls around, making you better prepared and therefore a lot less stressed.
In addition, because finals week consists of three days with two finals each, finding an effective studying strategy to help your brain juggle multiple materials at once is equally important. Break apart what your exams will cover into chapters or topics that you can study each day, and study two to three different subjects daily to give your brain intervals to breathe. Studies have shown that your brain functions at its full capacity between 6 A.M. and 7:30 P.M (as opposed to only at its twenty to fifty percent capacity at nighttime). The Dartmouth Academic Skills Center even recommends you study in twenty- to fifty-minute increments with a five- to ten-minute break between each session, repeating for an entire week for best results.
However, studying for several hours straight is not wise, either. Give yourself a chance to relax, and make sure your “chill” time is mentally and physically devoid of anything pertaining to your studies. If you can, try to engage in activities that will make you laugh. Laughter has been scientifically proven to decrease your stress hormones and trigger the release of endorphins, your body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals.
Finally, on the day of your exam, be good to yourself. Walk into that classroom and let it go. You are going to ace those tests, anyway.