Managing Stress Before Finals

Finals week and the week before finals week are the busiest weeks for a college student. The amount of time you have to put into studying and working on projects and papers becomes unbearable. Despite that, you might not even get a good grade on those assignments or finals. It’s incredibly stressful. No matter how you do, remaining sane is an accomplishment in and of itself. Without further ado, here’s some tips to help you manage stress in the weeks leading up to finals.

Start Ahead of Time

It stands to reason that if you start preparing for something early enough, you’ll have enough time to prepare for it. This is where a lot of students fail. They think they’ll have enough time but then it gets to the week before finals and they realize they haven’t studied at all. As someone who has gotten their butt kicked by that “one final”, there is no such thing as too much preparation.

Take Breaks

Saint Francis de Sales once said, “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.” Studying for 8 hours straight isn’t going to help anyone, especially not you. All that will happen is your mind will shut down and, next thing you know, you’ll be watching The Spongebob Squarepants Movie and eating chips for dinner. The recommended study schedule follows a pattern of 45 minutes of studying and 15 minutes of break time. It doesn’t matter if your exam’s in a few hours. If you don’t take breaks, your mind will fry.

Have a Plan

Another place where students fail is that they don’t have a plan. If you want to be successful at studying, you need to know where to start and end and what strategies to use. Start from the beginning and work your way through. Reviewing the basics can help you understand the more complicated stuff. Do this for all subjects including the ones you already feel comfortable with. Make sure you aren’t just memorizing the textbook, make sure you understand the material. Take your understanding and apply it through completing study guides and practice exams.

Be Healthy

It’s hard to be healthy when you have mountains of assignments and multiple finals to study for but it’s almost essential to overcoming stress. Exercise is one of the most common ways to relieve stress and a healthy diet helps contribute to mental well-being. Another thing to look out for is the use of too many stimulants. Sure, it’s fun to joke about how college students mainly subsist on coffee, energy drinks, and things like Ritalin during finals week but it’s terrible in practice. Too much can make you sick and none of these things help you learn in the long run.

Take Advantage of On-Campus Resources

This includes your professor, online resources, the library, practice tests, and tutors. Using these resources can help you get into the exam mindset. Professors will more likely than not review past material in class and will go over material you don’t understand during office hours. Practice tests will have questions similar to the ones of the exam and it’s a good way to apply the material you’ve been learning to an exam format. Tutors will also go over material you don’t understand.


I know this advice is too generic, especially to people who already have anxious personalities. There are many techniques you can use to relax. Some techniques include meditation, deep breathing, reaching out, being present in the moment, listening to soothing songs, and exercising.

Finals week is just around the corner but if you follow these pieces of advice, you’ll come out just fine. You’ve got this. I believe in you.