What NOT to Do During Finals Week

Avoid these harmful habits, which could negatively impact your studying routine.

By Tiffany Sorensen, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

May 03, 2016

What NOT to Do During Finals Week

There is always a lot of talk about what to do during finals week, but what are some things not to do? First and foremost, do not neglect your body: get some light exercise and sleep properly. Second, do not study in an unhealthy, unrealistic way. Avoid bombarding yourself with too much information and entertaining negatives thoughts.

Here is a more comprehensive look at these harmful habits:

1. Try a new exercise routine
Exercise is a fantastic outlet for relieving stress, rejuvenating the mind, and of course, strengthening the body. If you exercise regularly, there is no reason you should not do so during finals week. Even if you are not in the habit of exercising, you could benefit from taking walks, riding a bike, or doing some other low-key activity in the days before finals. Working out is known to improve concentration, energy levels, and sleep.

However, finals week is a time to avoid trying a new exercise or one that you have not done in awhile. A long-distance run or an intense tennis tournament could leave you feeling sore and miserable if you don’t practice these regularly. Stick to your current workout plan for now. The last thing you want is to pick up a rigorous exercise that will leave you tired and without the motivation to study.

2. Fall behind on sleep
Many students do not realize just how much sleep impacts testing performance. It may be more appealing to throw back an energy drink and cram the night before rather than going to sleep around 10pm—but multiple late nights can contribute to chronic exhaustion and potentially illness. When you lose sleep, your defenses drop, making you more susceptible to different sicknesses. Moreover, you are less likely to retain the material you studied when you are overtired.

The link between sleep and test scores has been long established. One study showed that the highest test scores were received by teens who slept seven hours a night; those who slept fewer than six hours a night scored significantly lower. So, be sure to get enough sleep so you can give your finals your all!

3. Beat yourself up
During finals week, you should aim to build up your confidence, not break yourself down. It is easy to focus on your weak points, especially during a time as stressful as finals week, but you know more than you think you do. Most of the “learning” part of the course is done; now you are just reviewing material that you have already been tested on multiple times.

If you are starting to feel nervous and doubt yourself, do something inspiring. Read motivational quotes or look at tests you did particularly well on. Ask your parents or friends for a pep talk. Remind yourself you are an experienced and capable student!

4. Try to relearn the whole course
You may be an exceptionally bright pupil. Logically speaking, however, you cannot absorb a school year’s worth of material in a single week. Trying to do something that huge would likely be a waste of your time, so why do it?

Instead, you should set reasonable study goals for yourself. It is a wise idea to review questions you got wrong on old tests just in case a similar question pops up on the final. Also, look at your course text to see which terms are boldfaced or highlighted and which topics seem to come up over and over. Invest your time intelligently by focusing on areas your teacher or textbook emphasizes.

There are several things one should not do during finals week. Avoid overexerting your body, cutting back on sleep, psyching yourself out, and cramming. Evade these mistakes and you will be better off this finals season!

Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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