By Jason Linstonburgh
A final exam is not the most difficult thing to deal with over a semester. Most final exams are cumulative and will take one to three hours to complete, which means they will cover all the topics that have been taught, but only a limited number of questions will be asked. In other words, your instructor can only test you on fundamental concepts, not the smallest details piece by piece. So if you don’t understand all the details, just relax and stop worrying about it.
To avoid anxiety, make a plan on what to review at least two weeks before the final exam, so you can iron out most if not all the things you have troubles with. The best time to begin planning is when you finish your last midterm exam. At that point, if you did well, that means the topics covered in the midterm exams shouldn’t give you trouble in the finals, so you can briefly go over these easy concepts as a refresher, and then finish off the topics that are not in the midterm. If you did so-so or awful on the midterm, then you will have more work to do. You will have to figure out what concepts you don’t understand on those midterm exam questions. Ask the instructor or a teaching assistant for help immediately as your time is very limited before the finals. If available, do some practice exams and figure out if these questions on the midterm have anything to do with the final exam questions, so you can skip those non-significant topics when you don’t have much time and instead focus on the significant topics so you can get the most points out of the final exam.
Relieve your stress just by doing things you regularly enjoy doing, such as listening to music, playing sports, hanging out with friends, cooking, or just eating. Don’t watch a newly released TV series or play any newly released games, or do anything new to you. You don’t want to get addicted to these things and stop studying. Games and movies are fun, but they can wait! Or maybe just set these movies and games as a “reward” after the exam? That will certainly give you the motivation to keep studying.
Get enough sleep and maintain personal hygiene. Just because there is a final exam coming up, it doesn’t mean you must stay awake all night. Not sleeping enough or maintaining good personal hygiene can affect your studying ability and sometimes can even get you sick right before the exam. If you regularly do workouts, keep them up.
Maybe enjoy a cup of coffee after studying. Statistics have shown that a low dose of caffeine intake can help consolidate memory. But don’t force yourself to drink it if you don’t like coffee. There are other “memory foods” you can try to enhance your memory, such as whole grains, vegetables, and nuts that ware high in vitamin E, fish, avocado, and berries that are rich in antioxidants.