Everything is a little bitter sweet around week 11/12 – holidays are within touching distance, but between myself and that amazing feeling of not spending every waking moment thinking about looming deadlines is the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is finals season.
Embracing my inner procrastinator and extending a middle finger to my lengthening ‘to do’ list, I’ve put together 10 tips that might help you make it out alive;
- Write a Goddamn To-Do List
Maybe this is more of a life tip than a study tip – but I can’t recommend it enough. Every night before I go to bed I write down everything I want to accomplish the next day, I include everything from readings I need to do, to regular chores.Sometimes I do this with pen & paper, other times I do it on my phone with Evernote.Try it just for one day – as a visual learner/doer, having everything I need to do for the day mapped out in front of me really helps me manage my time, prioritise tasks and there’s no better feeling then crossing off those tasks one by one.
Cluttered space? Cluttered mind.With about 2 weeks left of classes I always make time for a huge clean of my house. It won’t take long – just set aside a couple of hours to de-clutter and prepare your space for the mental chaos that is about to ensue.Take time to really set your study space up, you’re going to be spend countless hours there over the coming weeks. If you need to, buy a new lamp or beanbag to make it feel inviting, cue IKEA.
- Speak to your Prof/ Tutor
If you hit a wall, or are just struggling to fully understand a topic – make sure to utilise the resources around you, particularly whoever runs your tutorial and you lecturer (during consultation times). These people are an invaluable but often underutilised resource, they will be more than happy to assist you, especially if you are asking more pointed questions with regard to a concept, or can show that you have attempted a related question (on a past exam paper, for example).
- Study Group
It’s much easier to go through hell when you have people going through the exact same thing with you. Study Groups can be a double edged sword, they can be a fantastic study resource but can also serve as a distraction.Generally, they’re a great tool to help broaden your understanding. Using other students to bounce ideas off, or explain concepts to can really assist your approach to complex topics.
Its Finals season, your life is going to feel like it is falling apart at the seams – don’t let your diet fall apart with it.There will be long hours spent studying, leaving you little time for other daily life duties. There’s going to be Uber Eats, takeaway, caffeine and sugary snacks – it’s important to keep this in balance but making sure you don’t skip breakfast, eating three square meals a day and ensuring those meals remain balanced.Finals season is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not just one all-nighter, so it’s important to keep a good handle on your diet to make sure you don’t fall off the wagon and end up jeopardising your results.I wholeheartedly recommend meal prepping to help you through finals season, it may also be a good time to consider taking some dietary supplements – I recommend a good multivitamin and fish oil as a good starting point.
Drink more water – It is suggested that up to 80% of Australians suffer from chronic dehydration. Queensland Health recommends that men drink 2.6 litres of water per day and that women drink 2.1 litres.Drinking more water will assist your cognitive function, boost your energy levels and better your mood. I recommend purchasing a large BPA-free water bottle and sitting it at your desk while you study. 2.6/2.1 is not a lot over the course of a day, especially if you always have water with you.
There is an abundance of proven connections between exercise and better mental health. Finals season is an exceedingly stressful period, especially for law students, and even just a short period of exercise can be a fantastic stress relief and help you refocus.
Exams are a marathon, not a sprint – so it’s important to keep yourself from the brink of total insanity. Whatever it is you do to relax, it is important that you maintain that through finals. Whether it be watching an episode from your favourite TV series or playing with your dog, try and get out of your study environment to create a mental disconnect.I plan on doing a separate post on this, by meditation and yoga can be incredibly helpful during exam time. Even if you’ve never meditated before, simply sitting in a quiet place, focusing on taking deep, slow breaths for just 10 minutes (without your phone) will work miracles for your stress levels, resulting in better study, and better grades.
Maybe most importantly of all, try and ensure that you maintain your sleep schedule throughout the season. Consistent, high quality sleep allows our brains time to consolidate memory, essential storing all the information we’ve studied during the day – resulting in better memory retention and recall. Law School exams are lengthy, mentally numbing attacks on your brains, to achieve top results you need to be as sharp as possible – and that all starts with a good night’s sleep.
It always important to keep your life in perspective, additionally so during exams, academia is not the be all and end all – you will not die if you do not pass. Almost every tertiary educated student that I’ve met has told me that their years at university were some of the best of their lives, so it’s important to not let this time pass you by with your head buried in a sandpit of stress. Make time for your friends, your family and be grateful for what you have, and where you are.