Preparation can help alleviate stress during finals

by Bridget Chapman

05_07_13_Features_Finals2_CKThe dreaded time of information overload has arrived. Unfortunately, finals week is a time all San Diego State students have to endure fool proof. There may not be known methods to make the week pleasant, but there are tactics to survive it. Here are various ways to enhance the finals week experience.


Time management

This is definitely one of the key factors in doing well during finals. Many college students have mastered the art of procrastination, but to stay in top physical and mental shape, it’s important to break down the overall schedule.

Using some kind of planner, write your entire schedule out, including test times, due dates for papers or projects, and miniscule daily activities. These activities can be anything from going to the gym to doing laundry.

Once a complete schedule is created, time can be allotted for each activity. Some activities, such as laundry and buying groceries, should be completed before finals week to allocate more time for work.

Graphic design sophomore Amanda LaFavor said she makes a schedule with set times to study for each subject, adding that it’s important not to wait until the last minute.

“It’s all about discipline,” LaFavor said. “Start studying little by little a few weeks before finals.  It will make your finals week much easier.”

Prioritize each academic duty by the time necessary to complete each task.

Unfortunately, tests can’t always be given equal study time. Consider which test has the biggest impact on your final grade and look at your current overall standing in the class. The ultimate goal is to pass classes and achieve a high GPA, so find ways to make this happen.



Now is the time to study and to do work. There are many components of the studying process that should be predetermined, including location, study style, distractions and breaks.

Location refers to the place where a student gets his or her optimum amount of work done. The library is a given for many.  But, some students also enjoy studying off campus. The Living Room Cafe on El Cajon Bvld., Panera Bread in Grossmont Center and Starbucks throughout the city can offer cozy study environments.

SDSU mechanical engineering junior Brian Mooney said he usually studies with music at home, but goes to the library during finals week.

“The Internet and my friends are the biggest distractions to studying,” Mooney said. “At the library, I can avoid both and just bring hard copies of subject matter so I have nothing to do but study.”

When studying at home, it’s important to cut off all distractions. Many students can’t have the Web browser up without giving in to Facebook or Twitter, so it’s necessary to turn off the Internet if needed. One free online application,SelfControl, blocks specified websites for a predetermined amount of time.

Another factor to consider is whether or not to study alone. Study time should not be  social time, so stay solo if other people are going to be distractions. If studying with other people, write out bullet points to cover and quiz each other. Teaching another person the material can help engrain the material into your own mind.


Take breaks

Don’t sit down at a desk for eight hours straight without taking any breaks. This sporadic schedule is not mentally or physically rewarding. When taking a break, make it productive. Get some fresh air, work out, make a phone call or have a healthy meal.

SDSU criminal justice sophomore Scott Lee said he doesn’t take too many breaks so he can keep his train of thought persistent.

“When I do take a break, I usually walk around outside to get some fresh air and relax,” Lee said.

He thinks this mental break allows him to rejuvenate and keep working for the rest of the day.

It’s also important to eat foods high in protein and fatty acids. According to EduNova, some of the best foods to consume while studying are fish, nuts, whole grains, apples, cruciferous vegetables, dark chocolate, berries, spinach, legumes and onions. Try to incorporate them into daily meals or snacks to feel energized and alert.

It’s also important to stay hydrated. According to a 2005 study in the journal, “Physiology and Behavior,” drinking chilled water with oranges in it increases alertness and decreases anxiety.

Staying active will also improve studying habits. The National Health Service reported that exercise increases energy, processing speeds, attention, the ability to perform cognitive tasks and leaves a person feeling refreshed. A short 15-minute walk can also improve academic productivity.

Sticking to these simple themes of time management, breaking down studying and taking beneficial breaks will ease the pain of finals week and provide a wonderful introduction to summer.