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Top 5 survival tips for finals week from FIU Online

by Monica Smith

Dec 02, 2020, 1:00 PM.

How to make it through, mind, body and spirit.

The thought of finals week can cause a range of emotions for students—especially if it’s their first time going through finals or if their class is online. Alumni will tell you that finals week is just something you have to get through. 

Having said that, getting through finals well requires specific study strategies, but it also requires that learners address their mind, body and spirit appropriately to make the week pass easily. Here are a few tips that might help you not only survive but thrive during finals.

1. Stay positive

Countless studies show that the power of positive thinking can have real and valuable effects on mindset and exam performance. Those who work at staying positive will have more energy and drive to accomplish the goals needed to absorb material, and they’ll make better decisions on achieving their study goals. Positivity may also help stave off the damage that stress may cause through inflammation.

2. Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation can be incredibly damaging to the entire body. Sleep helps “reset” stress hormones to healthy levels. Sleep is also correlated with memory recall.

Data shows that students who have adequate sleep before a test (about eight hours) typically outperform those who do not sleep enough. Some researchers even assert that a good nap before an exam is as good as cramming—it helps the material solidify in the mind. If you decide to nap, set a loud enough alarm so you don’t miss your testing window.

3. Eat right and drink water

On exam day, many nutritionists recommend a high-protein meal, especially one that includes omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in salmon. Essential fatty acids in foods are praised for their ability to help exam takers concentrate and stay alert.

Reach for brain-boosting, high-protein foods such as eggs, nuts, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and peanut butter. While you’re at it, drink enough water to remain hydrated as studies show that adequate water consumption will help with short-term memory, concentration and improved test performance.

4. Take breaks

It’s important to stay focused but ensure that you take breaks to allow the brain to rest. Scientists have discovered that the most effective study breaks are those that include exercise for stress relief. Exercise releases calming hormones in the brain.

Log on to FIU’s Virtual WRC for on-demand exercise ideas or simply jump rope rather than reach for your phone to check social media. The increase in blood flow from exercise helps brain function and alertness.

5. Stay calm, carry on

While studying, resist the temptation to use your phone. If you can, place your phone on “do not disturb.” Interruptions can disrupt the study flow. If, however, you feel the anxiety creeping up, try a quick walk or stretch—move around. Meditation can also help. If you need guidance, there are many apps available that have free trial periods that may be long enough to get you through finals week. 

If it just seems too overwhelming and you need to talk to someone, visit FIU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) or call for an appointment: 305-348-2277.  

The best tip overall is to remember that finals week is just a week. Be good to yourself, even if it doesn’t go your way. Once you get through it, assess what could have been better and make a commitment to your mind, body and spirit for next term.

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