Study smarter: Six ways to ensure success during finals week


Alyse Zuiderveen

Many students write out their schedules for finals week in an effort to prepare for what is to come.

Alyse Zuiderveen, Copy Editor

As finals week approaches, students at the high school need to ensure that they are prepared for success and feel confident about their exams and projects. Many underclassmen have not taken finals before, making it important for upperclassmen and teachers to take time to help them navigate a semester change and final exams. Freshman Emma Schrag emphasized this importance. “I feel that for many freshmen it might be beneficial to have advice from upperclassmen concerning finals and schedule changes in order to make sure everyone is confident in knowing what the next few weeks will hold for them,” she shared. Whether this will be your first experience with final exams or you are experienced with finals, here are six ways to ensure success during finals week. 

  • Get proper sleep

It often seems like students enjoy bragging about the lack of sleep they have received and emphasize how much they studied for their exams. Unfortunately, the consequences of sleep deprivation far outweigh the temporary benefits of staying up late. Senior Claire Haas has participated in many final exams while enrolled in challenging courses and believes that sleep is crucial to success on final exams. “Never underestimate the power of good sleep,” she shared. “Many people will be tempted to pull all-nighters, but this will end up slowing down their thinking and it will be harder to concentrate.” Sleep has proven benefits such as increased productivity, which will allow students to study more effectively while they are awake. 

  • Be intentional with your time 

During finals season, it can seem like there is not enough time to accomplish everything on your to-do list without neglecting sleep or extracurricular activities. However, many students have found that there are significant benefits to scheduling their time throughout the year – especially during this stressful season. Prioritizing difficult courses during your schedule will allow you to direct your best energy during your most productive times towards areas that need your attention. Many students who schedule their study time find that this enables them to accomplish everything on their list while prioritizing study breaks and rest, which help their mental health. While scheduling your time during this season, be sure to prioritize times of rest, relaxation or activities that you find to be fun.

  • Make mock practice exams or utilize reviews

Many students take time to familiarize themselves with their final exams by discussing the format of the test with their teachers, studying review guides and making reviews for themselves. Haas has found that there are significant benefits to making mock practice exam questions for herself. “Teachers often have a pattern when they write questions on the exam that touch upon certain concept types. An example for the freshmen and sophomores would be Mr. VanWetzinga focusing on cause and effect,” she shared. “Completing practice problems will speed up the time it takes to complete the exam because you end up thinking exactly like the teacher and you end up learning the answer as well.” Studying by using methods and formats similar to the test will prove advantageous when you take your exams.

  • Contact teachers with questions

While asking for help may seem like a difficult or embarrassing task, it is truly crucial to success during finals. During this time, teachers make themselves available during eighth hour resources and scheduled resources during finals week. They are also available through their emails and can schedule meeting times with you. If you are confused, this is a helpful way to clarify your thinking and ensure that you are studying correctly. Teachers are more than willing to help, and oftentimes, they can give you helpful advice that will allow you to succeed on your final. This is also true throughout the semester; teachers can help you understand their courses and help you prepare for what is next.

  • Ensure that you are getting proper nutrition

Eating nutritious food is important to do year-round; however, eating certain foods during finals season can help improve brain function. Many studies have found brain function can be improved by eating healthy, nutritious foods such as kale, walnuts and strawberries. In fact, flavonoids, which cause the bright coloration in berries like strawberries and blueberries, help with memory. Many other healthy foods, such as walnuts, have been linked to higher test scores in the past. It is important to consume nutritious food, and being intentional to do so can help with energy, memory and focus, which can prove advantageous during finals.

  • Take time to move

While making time to exercise during finals may seem counter-productive, the benefits of exercise will help you as you study. Studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex, which aid in thinking and memory, are larger in individuals who exercise. Additionally, researchers have found that exercise helps relieve stress and increase focus and attention. This is due to the dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin that are increased when exercising. An average of two hours of exercise per week is all that is necessary to see the benefits of physical activity firsthand, and building time to exercise into your finals schedule may be incredibly helpful!

Happy studying, Spartans!