A Guide To Surviving Finals

An 8123 Community Blog by Julia Swanson.

This one is for all of the students in the 8123 family - we’re wishing you the best of luck!

With finals literally just around the corner, I’m sure all of our stress levels have gone through the roof. I know I’ve been scrambling to get all my final projects and papers done in a timely fashion so I don’t lose my mind!


If you’ve been trying to gather your wits so you don’t actually break down into a mess of tears, then I’m here to help! I’ve put together some of my favorite advice on how to stay calm during finals week, and I hope it helps you as well! Whether you try all of these steps, or just ones that you think will work for you, they really should help calm your nerves overall.



1.    Set the scene.

Let’s face it; you know where you study best. If it’s at the library, make sure you get there early enough to grab a seat because we all know how hectic the library gets once December hits. Once you’ve secured your seat, use the space you have! Spread out your books, but keep yourself organized. If it’s in your room – DO NOT STUDY IN BED! I don’t care what you say, you will get more tired just by being in the place you sleep. Take advantage of your desk and, again, keep your books organized.


2.    Light some candles.

It’s remarkable what lighting candles with your favorite comforting scent can do. Studies show that Rosemary is actually credited with helping clear one’s thinking, improving memory and energizing your mind. So – light a Rosemary scented candle before you sit down to crack open your books.



3.    Drink tea.

I know this is going to be tough to hear, but coffee is actually a bad idea when you’re studying. The amount of caffeine will ultimately lead you to crash in a few hours, and your brain will be too exhausted to retain information. Instead, opt for some green tea with jasmine. The green tea will give you the slight caffeine boost you need to keep you awake, while the jasmine will help relaxation, as well as ease tension and nerves. If you’re like me, and can’t really drink caffeine, try a peppermint herbal tea. The minty smell will keep you energized and refreshed. Plus, peppermint is said to aid concentration and stimulate the mind. I mean… what else could you ask for while studying?



4.    Take a hot shower.

If you feel like your head is going to explode from how smart you are becoming in these few short days, there is no better way to decompress than a nice hot shower (or bath if you’re a lucky one). Let the water wash away all your pain!!! But really… the steam always helps me clear my head and lets me focus better when I’m done.



5.    Create a study schedule – and follow it.

It’s a great way to get creative beforehand if you like art, because you can make it colorful and pretty. Plus, it’s always a good idea to have a set direction that you’re going to move in when it comes to studying so that you aren’t running around last minute trying to cram by pulling an all-nighter the night before. And that brings me to my next step…


6.    Stay well rested.

This is a given. But we all have had that test where we procrastinated until the last possible second and then had to stay up till 4AM trying to memorize everything. Well, this actually is proven to be ineffective. Sure, you might remember some things, but you retain information better when you give yourself the time to get it done, and get some sleep. Try to get at least 7-8 hours the night before an exam, and then be sure to eat a good breakfast that will keep your brain energized during the entire exam! Avoid carbohydrates and aim for protein – carbs are digested quickly and you lose the energy they give you much faster than protein.


7.    Give yourself a break!

No – seriously. It is actually proven that you retain information better when you focus intensely on a task for a few hours, and then indulge in something that is emotionally stimulating for you. Whether that be going for a walk, hitting the gym, drawing, reading a fun book, or listening to music – just give yourself a half hour every few hours to rejuvenate your brain!



8.    Study with friends.

This is a great way to make sure you didn’t miss any notes in class. Plus, it allows you to ask questions about things you didn’t really understand, where your friend maybe did, and vice versa. Explaining things to other people is a great way to figure out if you’ve mastered the material or not.


9.    Make it fun.

I’m crazy, I know! But really... you know what method of studying works best for you – reading, writing things down, saying them aloud, making a Quizlet, etc. Choose what works best for you, and spice it up! Create little phrases that help you remember terms better, or make it color-coded. Whatever you know works with your brain, do it!


As much as we like to joke about how stressful finals are, they seriously can be something that affects our mental health. If you start to become overwhelmed to the point where you feel sick or become extremely depressed, please don’t be afraid to reach out to your school’s health center to ask about their counseling services. I definitely have taken advantage of this at my school, and it’s helped me tremendously to get myself back on track. Remember that there is no shame in reaching out for help, and you are most definitely not alone – especially at this time of year.


With that, I wish you good luck with the rest of your semester – and with your exams! The Holidays (and 8123 Fest) are right around the corner, and you’ll be cozy at home again soon. Now go de-stress and crack open those books!