7 Study Tips to Help You Stay Sane During Finals Week

May 09, 2018

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Are you a last-minute crammer or a studious student?

This year, I entered my fifth year of study. (Ew). I started with a Bachelor of Arts then swapped to a Bachelor of Communications and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Public Relations. Now, I'm studying to be a registered legal executive (paralegal) in New Zealand. Needless to say, I have a tonne of study tips to keep you sane during finals week (and make it easier) (hopefully).

I know some of you have already completed finals and are busy celebrating, but I received an alert about my final. In thirty-five days. It seems a long way off, but those days will disappear in the blink of an eye. Plus, being in university (or college) is about making a consistent effort to really learn the materials in front of you. I hope this helps!

01. Know your learning style
There's nothing worse than having a pile of information in front of you and having no desire to read it. I've always found college-based books that are just pages upon pages of text boring. I need something to break up the page and keep my brain focused. I'm a visual learner. I love highlighters, coloured pens and pretty study spreads. I'm an auditory learner, too. Once I explain a topic to someone, I understand it and when I understand it, I remember it. Funny how that works, right?

Pick up some highlighters, stickers, coloured pens and bright paper. Make flowcharts and diagrams and brainstorm your topics. Read a section and have a 'brain dump' page to test what information you retained and what you need to work on. Form a study group. Create pop quizzes for the start of every session and test each other. Create flashcards and make it a pub-quiz style learning session. Alternatively, just read and write notes on every subject in your own words.

I took this test and found out my learning style within two minutes! It's worth doing if you're in a study rut and nothing seems to be working. It might make studying for finals more enjoyable and less of a stress-fest.

02. Be organised
This is so obvious, but it needs to be mentioned. Carve out chunks of time for studying and really dedicate yourself. Have all your materials laid out beforehand with a list of what you need to achieve in the allotted time. Find an environment that engages your brain. Some people study at home, some in a cafe and others in the library. I've found I need to switch up my environment otherwise I get bored and distracted.

03. Use the Pomodoro method
I started using this timer in my third year of university and it completely changed my attitude towards study! The traditional style is twenty-five minutes of work and a five-minute break, but you can tailor it to suit your attention span. I use it for everything. It's great for blog writing, email responses, general 'to do' tasks and studying. It is adaptable to any environment and has helped me stay sane during those frantic late-night cram sessions.

Source: Bruno Cervera / Unsplash
04. Create SMART goals
I discovered the SMART method whilst undertaking my Bachelor's Degree. It's an acronym for smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-tabled goals. Most people are motivated by extrinsic rewards, so crossing something off a to-do list is a great idea. I am notorious for creating hefty to-do lists and only ever achieving half of them in a day. It gets disheartening and frustrating. After a lot of evaluating, I have decided to manage my workload so I work smarter, not harder. This month, I'll be creating a list of five urgent things I need to do and working my way up in quantity.

05. Utilise your phone
People tell you to get rid of distractions like your phone, laptop or tablet when you're studying. I'm telling you to incorporate it into your study in a meaningful way. I have downloaded apps for my to-do lists, daily goals and habits, budgeting, music, and flashcards.

Here are some of my favourites:
Focus: Focus Timer Reborn and Forest
Lists: Any.do and MyLifeOrganised
Language: Duolingo
Flashcards: Cram and Quizlet
Meditation: Headspace and Calm
Music: Spotify
Brain: Peak, Elevate and Lumosity

I generally start my study time by doing the set tasks/games in my 'brain' apps. I've found that it wakes me up and clues my brain into the fact that it's time to work. Next, I do a 'brain dump' of everything I remember from my previous study session. It gives me a focal point and helps dictate which areas need more work. After I empty my brain, I set up my timer, select a study playlist and read, highlight and note-take until the timer goes off. During my five minute break, I stretch, reply to social media mentions or grab a glass of water.

06. Make healthy choices
I've found that choosing healthier food options and exercising regularly helps me stay focused during long cram sessions. I'm sitting down all day whilst studying, so exercising helps me feel balanced and gives me an excuse to get outside. Eating healthy makes me feel good. If I choose proper whole foods throughout the day, I don't get an energy slump or nasty sugar cravings. And I get to eat pizza with a clear conscience if I've eaten clean for the last few days. It's all about balance, right?

Source: Penchant Styled / Unsplash
07. Know when to stop
I was so, so guilty of saying "just a bit more" when I really had to knuckle down. Did those few extra minutes help when it came to the exam? No. My brain was tired and my body was tired. Sometimes, you just need to know when to stop studying. It's all part of the 'work smarter, not harder' thought. I believed that achieving x amount of hours during the day meant that I was ahead of the game. Until it came to the exam and I found the last twenty minutes of my cram session meant nothing because my brain didn't retain any of it.


How did your finals go? What is a study method you swear by? Have you ever used a specific scent to help you study?

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  1. omg, first of all, your blog is stunning. Second of all, I love all these tips! The pomodoro method was one my favorite ways to study last-minute.

    Nice post babe, thank you so much for dropping by my blog earlier, really appreciate it!

    Zati x

    1. Aw, thank you!!

      The pomodoro method is my serious life saver! I SWEAR by it. Today, I used it as a way to do a speed-clean of my bedroom. It was so effective.

      Thank you for visiting my blog as well. You made my evening!

      xo, Victoria

  2. Hi Victoria!

    This is such a great post. There are so many great tips and resources here. I've never heard of the SMART goals method but I think it would help me a lot next semester. Can't wait to use these tips for finals next semester (but I can definitely wait for finals).

    -Precious From Thepoboxblog.com