Finals: Mastering Material and Overcome Anxiety

5 May

If the word finals gets your anxiety ramped up every time you hear it, then it is time to start thinking about some ways to help decrease that anxiety and build your test confidence. It has been a long semester to say the least and finals are always the last (and often largest) wall to get over. I have had my fair share of test related anxiety throughout my college career and as my last set of finals approaches, I want to share the tips and tricks that I have used to keep the anxiety to a minimum and knock my finals out of the park.rise

1) Remember to Relax

Taking five minutes to do nothing… I mean nothing. No books, no D2L, no slides and most importantly, NO PHONE. Taking time to sit and focus on the thoughts that are going on in your head allows you to identify the things that are causing you the most stress. Once you identify the stressors then you know whats bothering you and can make a plan.

Just a reminder: Remember to breathe. I know it is silly, but the reason anxiety builds is often because the thoughts are fast and furious and make you tense. When your body tenses up, your breathing gets short and that constriction can lead to more anxiety. I know this from experience. Let yourself focus on the breathes you take in and out

2) Activity

Yes, sitting still and cramming for a week straight isn’t the best game plan. Just life remembering to relax, making time for an alternate activity (other than studying) is important too. I personally, like to start my days off with a run. I take my dog and we hit the road for 30-40 minutes. The activity takes my minds away from the studying and away from any potential stress. Studies have shown that taking some time to get physical not only keeps you healthy, but it actually helps you focus more when you go back to studying.

Whatever you like to do, just do it! Even if it is getting up to take a walk or get some fresh air every hour, it can potentially increase your productivity which can only help that final grade right?!

3) Alternate Study Spots- Spots to Consider on Campus

campus mapI know, I know you have your favorite place to study on campus or in that coffee shop on University Blvd. That is great! I am not saying you should abandon it entirely. By changing up your study location, it forces your brain to adapt and increases the plasticity of your mind. All that jibber jabber means is that it allows your brain to put more information in it and actually retain what you need for the exam.
So, if you pick one day a week to study at that other coffee shop on University Blvd you may be able to exponentially increase the benefits of your study time.

 

4) Build On What You Know- Relate one class to another

Whether you are finishing your first year or your last year of college, being able to build on what you already know and recognize concepts that relate to one another will cut that study time in half! All too often, I got into the mindset that I had to study for every single thing on the exam because I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Before you go jumping on that band wagon I so terribly remember, take a few minutes to think about the work that you have already done and the things that you know. If you can relate a new topic to an older one that you already know (and like), then you are ahead of the game.

curveI just took a genetics exam today and before I let myself get into that old habit of thinking I didn’t know anything, I sat down and analyzed what the test was going to be on and how I might be able to relate it to something I already learned. Great news came! I knew that the genetics exam was about hormones and hormone pathways and guess what? Not two weeks ago did I take an exam in another class that was on hormones. Plant hormones, yes, but hormone pathways nonetheless. Knowing that I had already mastered something similar put me in a better mental state and allowed me to relax and feel like I had the upper hand on studying.

These are just a few ways that you can help prepare yourself for finals. I know that finals are stressful and full of ups and downs. Unfortunately, that wont change, but what can change is how you approach them. After working on these skills during my college career I can say that the test anxiety has gone down and the grades have gone up! Happy Finals Wildcats! You can do it!

 

 

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