Balance, planning key to final exam preparations


Lilly Carter

Starr’s Mill student plans her studying schedule to prepare for finals. Writing out a schedule is the easiest way to stay organized and eliminate the stress of fitting tasks into a busy day.

For the majority of students, finals week is full of nothing but stress, studying, procrastination, and more stress. It is extremely easy to fall into a rut of last-minute cramming and late night reviewing, but there are much more effective ways to get ahead of studying and to maintain one’s health, especially without sacrificing one for the other.

Sleep is often the first activity to be lost when preparing for a test late into the night. However, many studies show that sleep may be more helpful than studying. Harvard University’s Medical School blog discusses that studying a small amount of information, sleeping on it to process what was learned and repeating this a few days in advance of the test is extremely beneficial compared to staying up late and sacrificing sleep to study.

While it may result in a passing grade every now and then, relying on the cramming method is extremely impractical overall.

— Staff Writer Claire Goins

“Eight hours is a good amount of sleep. If students can figure out what time they need to wake up, they can count backwards to set a time that they’ll stop studying a go to bed. That sleep will help get rid of some stress,” Starr’s Mill school nurse Kelli Kalen said. Getting sufficient sleep is one of the main challenges that students face, but staying on top of a schedule may be helpful in achieving this.

Because each person handles studying a bit differently, it is essential to find methods and skills that are most effective for the individual. This may be creating flash-cards, quizzing oneself, writing out the information, or reading and highlighting. Testing out a few different methods and gauging how well the information is retained may help in finding which should be used to prepare for finals and avoid last-minute study sessions. While it may result in a passing grade every now and then, relying on the cramming method is extremely impractical overall.

To make studying less painful and to avoid cramming, a healthy tip is to set a timer for 30-45 minutes and focus on studying or being productive on an assignment for that whole period. When the timer goes off, taking 10-15 minutes to eat a snack, stretch, scroll through social media, or do another activity can act as a reward. Repeating this process until one’s studying goals for the day are complete is helpful and simple.

The American Psychological Association says that spacing out study sessions and allowing breaks between each is extremely effective in not only learning information, but also retaining it for longer periods of time. During the dedicated study time, it may be helpful to put the phone away or turn it off altogether.

During the dedicated study time, it may be helpful to put the phone away or turn it off altogether.

— Staff Writer Claire Goins

“A lot of the time students will say they don’t have time to study or time to sleep, but what they don’t realize is that their phones are really limiting their productive time and causing a distraction,” Kalen said. It is easy to fall into a habit of spending too much time on a phone or checking it regularly during a period for studying, but finding a way to eliminate this distraction will greatly increase students’ ability to focus and stay on track.

In addition to taking short breaks, it is beneficial to devote 30-60 minutes per day to stress-relieving exercises that not only clear the mind but benefit an individual’s overall health as well. This can be as simple as going for a quick walk or run, doing some yoga, dancing, or heading to the gym.

It has been scientifically proven that exercise not only boosts overall brain power, but is the best way to improve attention and memory, according to Karen Postal Ph.D.’s medical blog. Along with this, productivity increase is directly related to regular exercise. So if an individual is debating whether to spend time watching TV or going for a run, exercising is not only the better option for the body, but the mind, too.

The main goal behind each of these tips is to minimize procrastination in a healthy and practical manner to promote overall success on finals. A valuable way to stay on top of this is to set a schedule with specific goals for studying, fitness, and sleep each day. This can help eliminate stress and keep productivity at a maximum.

“If you sit down and write out a schedule and try to put a little bit of every class in the schedule, you may find that studying is much more manageable and you’ll be able to get a good amount of sleep,” Kalen said. Many people find that physically jotting down a plan in a notebook or calendar is much easier for remembering tasks, as well as rewarding when they are completed.

If all else fails, don’t forget to take a break and prioritize the things that are most important. Finals will only go as well as a student prepares for them. The key for powering through until the end is an individual putting  mental and physical health first, so the value of balancing sleep and studying to reach goals of success should not be underestimated.