No matter what grade you may be in, you’re probably dreading taking your finals. Most people, myself included, don’t particularly enjoy taking three or more tests a day for multiple days in a row. Maybe you like that kind of thing, and you should probably talk to someone about that. But if you’re like me, and you want to curl up in a ball of stress and cry when you think about Finals Week, read on. This article will hopefully help you get through the insanity of Finals Week.
Tip #1: Make lists
One thing that has helped me an incredible amount throughout my 12 Finals Weeks at ALHS is making lists. I make an outrageous number of lists when I start to feel overwhelmed. Being able to see everything in front of you is calming, because you can get all of your worries out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than taking a Sharpie and violently crossing off the things you’ve already accomplished, right? If you don’t know where to start or what to make your list about, start by writing out when each of your finals are. For example, I often write a separate list for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and mark down the tests or projects I have on each of those days. On Wednesday, I might have a Psychology and a Pre-Calculus test. I would write that down on the list, and then I would know that on Tuesday night, I had better be studying those two subjects. Which brings me to my next tip…
Tip #2: Prioritize
Prioritizing goes hand-in-hand with lists for me. I like to see what and when something has to be done all in the same place. So, when you write your list of what tests you have and on what day, make sure you find a way to indicate the importance of some things over others. Maybe math isn’t the easiest subject for you, but you excel at English. If you had English and math tests on the same day, a smart decision might be to study for your math test before you study for English. That way, if you were to run out of time to study, you would be more prepared for the subject that you personally find more challenging. One of the hardest things to do when it comes to prioritizing is setting aside the things you like to do and starting with the things you aren’t as big of a fan of. For example, I quite like doing math problems (that is, when I understand the material well) but I don’t always enjoy writing a paper. However, if my paper is due on Thursday, and my math test is on Friday, I would need to write the paper first. In doing so, I would avoid putting myself into a situation where I would be hastily scratching out the last few paragraphs of my paper minutes before the deadline. The important takeaway from this: know what needs to get done and when. Then, do what it takes to complete it, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy it.
Tip #3: Choose instrumental music
I, like many other people, love to listen to music while doing my schoolwork. However, that habit can inhibit the productivity of your study time. I’ve noticed that, when I listen to music that includes lyrics, I am fairly likely to pick up my phone and change the song. This happens with frequency throughout the time I spend doing homework. What makes this a dangerous practice, however, is the fact that when I change my music, I also check my text messages. I open Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok and VSCO. I get sucked into the black hole of social media and technology, and I have a feeling that I am not the only one. You might be wondering how this connects to the tip of choosing classical music, so I’ll tell you about the remedy I have discovered for this issue. I have found that there are an endless number of classical or instrumental music playlists available on Spotify and YouTube. That may sound boring, but trust me, it isn’t as bland as you might think! Some of my personal favorite playlists to listen to involve the instrumental versions of pop songs. There is a shocking number of guitar, piano, violin and even saxophone covers of modern pop songs. Another playlist that I listen to quite often is the “Disney RELAXING PIANO Collection – Sleep Music, Study Music, Calm Music (Piano covered by kno)” playlist from YouTube, which is basically a plethora of Disney songs from countless soundtracks, all rolled up in one beautiful piano arrangement. As winter begins to draw nearer, I’ll definitely be listening to a few festive holiday tunes. Now, the reason that I recommend this is because, not only can you listen on your Chromebook and cease from touching your phone to change the music, it is also the type of music that causes minimal distraction. It isn’t too brash or abrasive, like some kinds of music can be. Your mind is not drawn away from your homework and towards what the lyrics of the song are. It’s the kind of music that you can listen to without truly listening. It is a peaceful background noise that promotes a zen learning environment of productivity. So, the next time you sit down to study, switch off your normal tunes and test out an instrumental playlist. Whether it be classical Disney, pop, or even holiday music with a fireplace in the background, the sky’s the limit!
Here are the links to some of my other favorite study playlists!
Rainy Night at Hogwarts
Holiday Guitar & Fireplace
Tip #4: Exercise
Before you immediately turn away from this idea, hear me out. Sitting down to do homework for hours at a time is a daunting task. A few assignments in, you might start to feel a little sluggish. Your brain might not be functioning at its optimal level, and you might be getting a bit distracted. You need a break. Maybe you’re the person who, at that point, would reach for your phone. I’m going to encourage you to try something different. Slip on a hat, a pair of gloves and a coat, then go outside. Going for a walk is a great way to stimulate and re-energize your brain after a long study session. Personally, I love to throw on a mask and walk with a friend. Another option could be to put some headphones in and listen to music or a podcast. After thinking and stressing about school for a prolonged period of time, your brain just needs to relax. The crisp, cool fall air is what I would consider to be the ideal temperature for a walk. If you’re not interested in going for a walk, try some yoga or guided meditation. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just get active! Take advantage of the 9:15 A.M. start of the school day and exercise in the morning. Your day will be better for it!
Tip #5: Keep your workspace clean
This tip is self-explanatory yet incredibly important. When schoolwork starts to pile up, it can be easy to push cleaning your room and workspace to the side. It doesn’t seem to be high on the list of priorities. I, personally, am guilty of letting the mess pile up in my room as well. But, taking ten minutes out of your day to tidy up can have a significant impact on your productivity. I don’t know about you, but when I walk into my room after a day of school and a few hours of homework, I get upset when I realize how disastrous it is. It adds to my anxieties and worries, and that is incredibly unhelpful. Do yourself and your brain a favor and take a moment to straighten up. There’s something therapeutic about physically cleaning your workspace that makes it feel like your headspace has been freshened up, too.
Tip #6: Don’t forget to give yourself a break
When your schedule is jam-packed and you feel like you’re being overwhelmed by all of your assignments, it might seem impossible to take a minute of rest. However, that kind of break might be exactly what you need. When you write your list of priorities, don’t forget to include some self-care activities. That could look like just about anything. I like to put on a face mask and drink a cup of cinnamon apple tea while reading a book for a few minutes. If you have a pet, take a moment to sit down and spend some time with them. You could journal, take a bath or cook a homestyle dish for your dinner. The options are endless, and you can do whatever it is that will help keep your mind focused and get you ready to take your tests.
In addition to the tips provided on this list, be sure to get a healthy amount of sleep before you take your finals. We have a few extra hours in the morning before school starts, and it would be prudent to take advantage of that. Eat a nutritious breakfast and drink plenty of water before heading to school to help fuel your brain and body as you prepare to complete your finals. The Ahlahasa staff wishes you the best of luck!