Summer is almost here, the semester is almost over and finals season is underway. This time in the semester can be the most stressful for many as classes are coming to an end. While I don’t think I’ll ever be excited for finals, I’ve received some invaluable advice on how to finish the semester strong which has helped me along the way. 

Tip 1: Find a way to stay organized

If you haven’t already found some method of managing your schedule, there is no better time than the present! As a student balancing multiple classes and extracurriculars, I speak from experience when I say it is absolutely necessary to stay organized. My favorite tool to use is Google Calendar since I’m always on the computer for my classes and it’s really convenient to have everything in one place. I also tend to set daily tasks for myself to make sure I stay on track with my classes and schedule out blocks of time where I can focus on studying or completing assignments to maintain productivity.

Tip 2: Look ahead so you can plan in advance

A common thread among the classes I have taken so far at UM is that they really start to speed  up toward the end of the semester. While this can feel overwhelming, looking ahead can definitely help you become aware of what to expect and possibly prepare for important deadlines sooner to avoid them piling up during finals season. Reading the syllabus and looking at the class schedule often yield important information such as the format and frequency of exams, how the class is structured in terms of assignments and projects, and all of the course deadlines. Keep in mind that finals might look different for every class. For example, I’m taking a class that doesn’t have an official final exam, but had daily assignments and an oral evaluation as my final, while another had weekly lecture quizzes with a final exam. There also might be additional projects that can be due at the same time too, so the best way to avoid potential burnout is to plan ahead. If the inevitable does happen and you have stacked deadlines, try not to push yourself too hard. The best you can do is try to manage your time to complete your deadlines as quickly as possible and seek out resources if necessary. 

Tip 3: Find your study style

Sometimes it can feel like there’s so much information being thrown at you at once and studying can become difficult, but finding ideal study strategies should help down the line. Do you learn better working in groups and discussing topics? Consider joining a study group like those offered at the Science Learning Center or in your dorm! I definitely made use of my MoJo study group last year, and even made friends with other students in my MLC, the Michigan Research and Discovery Scholars (MRADS), whom I frequently studied with. Do you learn better alone or through memorization? Try making flashcards using apps like Quizlet, Anki, or even physical notecards or making additional notes sheets so you can better remember the material you just learned. In addition, don’t forget to make use of practice exams or important class topics, since they are often the closest resource you’ll have to the actual exam. The main point is that each person learns differently, so find what works best for you!

Tip 4: Stay motivated

With the end of the semester approaching, it is possible to lose focus and motivation. The primary methods I use to try to stay motivated are using a rewards system and finding some ways to hold myself accountable. For my rewards system, I will often use sweets or Netflix to motivate myself, allowing myself to have a smoothie or watch an episode of my favorite show, once I’ve finished some milestone. I tend to procrastinate sometimes, so if there’s a task I have to do that I’ve been putting off, I will tell others that I will complete it by this time. Even if they don’t hold me accountable for it, I will personally feel pressure to hold myself accountable. There are different ways to motivate oneself than those I’ve listed, but the overarching positive reinforcement is what’s helped me stay motivated and it may help you too!

Tip 5: Don’t forget to make time for yourself!

This is the most important piece of advice I received my first year at UM. At that time, I had put self-care on the backburner because of finals, which had its own set of consequences. Make sure you’re getting healthy amounts of sleep, you’re eating on a regular schedule, and prioritizing your own health and well-being. If you feel burnt out, like you can’t focus on anything at the moment, take a break. Maybe go outside, talk to friends, just find some way to relax so your mind can be clear for when you return to your studies. At the end of the day, you are not your exams and taking care of yourself is the best you can do for your own academic and personal success.

I hope this helps and wish you luck completing your finals!