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Flying Through Finals

How to make it through exams this semester stress-free

by Molly Tavoletti, Ohio State.

Whether this is your first college semester or your last, the inevitable dark fog of final exams rolls in,and you’re likely feeling the pressure to finish the term strong. And although completing study guides, re-reading and making flash cards will undoubtedly aid you in taking on finals, true academic success must also be accompanied by the proper motivation while remaining as free of stress as possible.

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So that begs the question of how? How do I make the most of the time I have to study while staying relaxed and focused?

Well today I’ll be sharing my favorite tips for flying through finals!

First and foremost you need to accept there is no quick fix. No magic trick I can teach you to snap your fingers and get an A. Doing well on finals is by no means easy–you’ll need some hard work and determination. But when you get those grades back, you’ll be able to enjoy your winter break with the knowledge that you tried your hardest and achieved the most you could.

When I’m having trouble getting motivated to study, I have one thought to encourage me. I am the first person in my family to attend college, so I think about everything I went through to get where I am today. How hard I worked in high school to get a good GPA and high SAT scores in order to get a good scholarship to attend the university of my dreams. I think about all the other students who were not given an opportunity to go to college and how they would give anything to trade places with me. I think about how lucky I am to live in a country where higher education is so readily available and how thousands of young people around the world wouldn’t even dream of being in my shoes. In doing so, I find a new perspective and realize that I owe it to not only those less fortunate than I am, but I also owe it to myself to do my absolute best. Suddenly, I feel an excitement to learn and attack my finals head on–I swear, it works!

Next, find a good study spot. I personally do not like the library, especially during finals. You may waste a half hour just looking for a seat that is cramped and uncomfortable. I am a firm believer in environment influencing motivation, so I have a few secret study spots I rely on and encourage you to find the equivalents on your campus.

The cafe no one knows about.

At Ohio State, my favorite cafe is hidden within the school’s art center. It is a small establishment on the bottom floor called the Heirloom Cafe and not only has huge tables for studying, but also AMAZING food and great vibes. I love studying at cafés because I don’t like being in absolute silence when I study. The small talk from art students and low classical music in the background comforts me and puts me in the optimal study zone.

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Hidden places within popular locations.

While places like the library and student union generally overcrowd during final exams, you usually can discover hidden spots within these locations that yield little, to no traffic. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet, study rooms make perfect places to lock yourself away and get down to business. My favorite location, which is within the Ohio Union, features a beautiful view of campus that makes reading more enjoyable and helps maintain my sanity.

So once you’ve found the right motivation and tackled a few hours of studying, you’ll likely begin feeling anxious to get up and walk away from the books for a little while–and guess what, you should!

You deserve little breaks every now and then, but be sure to do so properly. So while you might be tempted to treat yourself to a greasy meal or a few hours of Netflix, resist! Both of these things will leave you feeling sluggish and tired, which will not encourage you to continue studying.

Your body and mind will benefit more if you make an alternative decision, like a little physical activity. Exercise is a great way to not only relieve stress, but also boost your energy. Hit the gym, take a yoga class, or go out for a run. It doesn’t matter how you get active, but make sure you do! You’ll leave feeling happier and more energized to return to those books.

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Another common downfall for students during finals becomes their eating habits. When you’re spending 12+ hours at the library, your nutritional needs tend to suffer. Students make up for missed meals with sugary snacks, greasy fast food and high-calorie energy drinks. While walking down the unhealthy path is easy to do, your food choices can impact your studying more than you think.

The adage is true: you are what you eat. Food is used to FUEL your body so if you are feeding yourself junk, you will feel like junk! Instead of snacks like cookies or chips, pack whole fruits like apples, bananas, or strawberries. Your body will benefit energy  from the natural sugar without the crash that added sugar brings.

If you’re planning on staying at the library for an extended period, pack multiple snacks to eat every few hours to keep your energy up. Good snacks include raw veggies and hummus, almonds, or fruit with cottage cheese. Choose foods with protein and fiber to keep you full so you can stay focused on those books!

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Finally, just breathe. Finals only as stressful as you make them. Take on your tasks one at a time and just try your best. If you took good notes, went to class, and payed attention throughout the semester, you likely know more than you think you do. Keep yourself focused on the wonderful break you’ll get–and for me, that huge glass of wine after that last exam 🙂

Molly Tavoletti

The Ohio State University | 11 stories

Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, I am now a junior at Ohio State University, majoring in Journalism and Political Science. I am obsessed with with all things health and fitness--I'm a blogger for an all female fitness organization at OSU as well as the health/fitness columnist for the OSU newspaper, The Lantern. In my free time, I am an intern at NBC4 in Columbus as well as a tutor at the OSU Writing Center. When I'm not writing (which is rare!) I spend my time singing with the OSU Women's Glee Club and of course--cheering on the Buckeyes at OSU football games!


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