The semester is almost over and only one thing stands in between you a relaxing vacation - finals. 

I always hated final exams. They usually ended up hurting my grade more than helping and the added stress always put me a little on edge. And if someone gave you the wrong coffee order or cut you off in traffic...well, then....

What was even worse was when they postponed the exam until after the holidays. Sure, it temporarily relieved some stress, but you never really studied that much during break. Even if I set aside time to study, it was hard to focus. And if I was out doing anything fun during vacation, I felt guilty for not studying. Better to just get it over with. 

So how do you get through finals without killing your grade, becoming overwhelmed with anxiety, and mentally losing your sanity?

Do the Work
You aren't going to want to hear this one if it is the night before but planning ahead and studying a little each night will cause you the least amount of anxiety.

What if your time is limited? Focus on one section or concept at a time. Learn that concept and move to the next one. Better to be sure of some things than have a surface level of everything. And understanding some of the core material will enable you to extrapolate that knowledge to some of the other exam material. 

Use what time you have to learn what you can. Becoming overwhelmed by everything you need to know will only cause your brain to shut down. One thing at a time. One concept at a time. One fact at a time. If your test is based on concepts, learn as many as you can. If it's based on memorization, repetition is your friend.

If it's a book report and you didn't read the book....I've got nothing. One of my English teachers was very astute in picking out the students who hadn't read the assigned book. She once made a student stand up in front of the class while she asked questions about the book. The assigned book was The Last of the Mohicans and this was right after the movie had come out. The sister who died in the movie is different than the one who died in the book. When asked which sister died, the student answered based on the movie and she nailed him. So, if it's a book report, start reading or take your friend who read the book out to coffee. 

Take a Walk
You retain more and are more productive with your time when you take mini breaks. 
Even if you feel like you need to "cram", it's important to step away from the material periodically. 

Set a goal - for example, learn three concepts - and then take a break. When you come back, review again what you've just learned before you start new material. 

Get to the Exam early
We can't control traffic and other things, but try your best to get to the exam a few minutes early. Rushing to the test will only make you flustered. And make sure you have an extra pen/pencil, your calculator or whatever else you need to be prepared (set it aside the night before). 

Know that you will be fine
Rarely does one question or test set the course for your future. I used to feel like if I did poorly on one test, then I had ruined my GPA and my chances of having a successful college career. It's not the case. Anyway, and now a days, people are looking for balanced individuals with unique experiences that set them apart. 

So take some deep breaths and know that this too shall pass. You will be eating your Christmas dinner soon enough!

PracticeJoanna Simmon