Written By: Eleanor Pratt
For most college students, midterms are now finishing up and finals are right around the corner. This can be an incredibly stressful part of the semester with big exams and projects all due around the same time. It sometimes feels like there is too much to do and too little time to accomplish everything. However, do not lose hope because there are many ways to prepare for finals and to reduce the stress and anxiety surrounding them.
One of the best things you can do to reduce the amount of stress you feel during exam season is to begin studying early. Colin Gruenwald of Kaplan Test Prep says “Three to four weeks ahead of time is the latest that you want to create a study plan for yourself. Cramming is toxic.” It is easy to procrastinate studying and revising because finals seem to be far away, but in reality, this will only cause more pain. Set up a schedule to revise a little each day leading up to exams and you will feel much more relaxed and prepared. If you work better with others, form a study group with classmates and discuss concerns or anxieties you all might feel about upcoming tests and projects.
It is helpful to consistently study every day, however it is also important to take regular breaks to combat being overwhelmed. Take 20 minutes to walk around and stretch your muscles in between subjects. Fix yourself some food and find a hot drink to calm you down. It may also be helpful to plan some fun activities for when you are done studying to give yourself something to look forward to and to work towards.
One of the more practical things to do to prepare for exams is to take mock exams. There may be examples of past exam questions online that could be similar to your exam, and this will give you a good idea of what you need to study and focus on. If there are not any examples online, think back to topics of assignments and discussions in class and make your own exam questions that might relate to these things. Creating your own fake exam questions is an excellent study technique according to leading psychologists on memory. In an article for Science Daily, Dr. Katherine Rawson, a psychology researcher at Kent State University, explains “Taking practice tests — particularly ones that involve attempting to recall something from memory — can drastically increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to remember that information again later.”
If exam stress is really getting to you it might be best to talk to someone about your anxiety. Talking with friends or family about your stress can help alleviate it and will allow you to let go of the tension you have been holding in. However, if venting to family or friends does not sound particularly cathartic, the Wellness Center on campus is always open for appointments. Counseling is available for stress, anxiety, depression, homesickness and much more. Right now individual counseling sessions will be on Zoom, and to set up an appointment just call the Center at (240) 895-4289. Counseling is free to all students, so it would be a smart move to utilize this service while you have it.
Exam season does not have to be an overly stressful time. Hopefully, by using these tips and services you can reduce any anxieties you may be having. It is always important to keep things in perspective and to not let the stress from exams overwhelm you because in a few months that big exam will feel more like a distant memory rather than the most stressful and important thing in the world.