Finding effective study habits and managing stress during finals week

Senior Isa Chavez dozing off during class. (Kenzie Taylor)

As the daunting finals week is approaching, it is crucial to not only prepare academically, but to pay close attention to other factors that may affect finals week performances. Sleep deprivation, physical exercise, and the attitudes commonly associated with school work all contribute to receiving desired grades.

During a study conducted by the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy, primary author, Salisa Westrick claimed, “Inadequate sleep decreases general alertness and impairs attention, resulting in slowed cognitive processing. Lack of adequate sleep also interferes with the function of brain structures critical to cognitive processes. The most notably impacted structure is the prefrontal cortex, which executes higher brain functions including language, working memory, logical reasoning, and creativity.”

Along with sleep deprivation, physical activity and diet can have a large impact on a student’s success.

“I try to get enough sleep and not eat junk food because I know it will make me feel gross. I also like exercising during finals week so I can work off some of the stress,” Orono Senior Bridget Carlson said.

Sadly, eight hours of sleep and a bunch of vegetables will not guarantee an A. Students still need to study for these exams, and most importantly, find the most effective ways to prepare.

For the American Psychological Association, Lea Winerman wrote, “Decades of research have demonstrated that spacing out study sessions over a longer period of time improves long-term memory. In other words, if you have 12 hours to spend on a subject, it’s better to study it for three hours each week for four weeks than to cram all 12 hours into week four.”

Relating to cramming, it is essential to treat finals week as a time to apply the material, not spend it catching up on past material.

“I try to stay caught up throughout the whole semester, so you don’t need to relearn or reteach yourself while also reviewing for your final. Also, I always keep my unit note packets and note cards organized so I can refer back to them when studying for finals,” Orono Senior Kristine Coad said.

Final exams and projects are rapidly approaching, so prepare in advance, take time to relax, maintain a positive attitude, and find personalized strategies to assist with stress management and retaining information.