The Finals Grind

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve done a long post, but since it’s finals time for a lot of students in university, I thought I’d share some tips on how to survive finals. Given that I’m only a first-year student, many of these tips have been collected from upper year friends, counsellors, and some are just general tips that we all need. So let’s get started!


Make a Schedule (Be Realistic)

Making a schedule allows you to visualize the amount of time you have leading up to your exam (spoiler: you usually have less time than you think). When you can physically see the amount of time remaining until your exam, you’ll likely feel some more pressure to actually start studying, and that little bit of pressure can be just enough to motivate you to start your work. Remember to be realistic with your schedule: you probably won’t be able to sit down and study for 10 hours straight – instead, try using different study methods and take frequent breaks in order to get your brain and body refreshed and re-energized! We only have 24 hours in a day and it’s impossible to do everything. Stay realistic and just plan what you know you can do during that time (including sleep!)

Find What Works for You

Everyone has a different study method, and study methods can vary depending on the subject. Figure out what works best for you and what type of learner you are (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc). Knowing this information can help you find tailored study methods for your type of learning, and you can adapt your study methods to fit how you learn best. Furthermore, remember to change up study methods for various classes – for instance, you would study for calculus in a very different way than you do for psychology. In addition, figure out whether or not you study better in a group or by yourself, and whether or not that varies depending on the subject. Last but not least, know when you’re most productive, whether it’s the morning, afternoon, or night, and schedule your hardest task at that time in the day!

Have A Study Space

Having a designated study space can help you maintain concentration and focus while you’re studying. You could even have a different study spot for each subject that you’re studying! In general, figure out your ideal study spot and stick to it if you can!

Stick To Your Plan

Distractions are everywhere, and if we’re not truly disciplined and focused, we fall into the distraction trap quite easily. Have your study schedule with you wherever you go, and do your best to stick to it! Remember to focus on what’s important and block out the noise around you as best as you can.

Ask for Help!

Ask your friends, get a tutor, ask your prof, or attend review sessions (if there’s any being hosted). Don’t be afraid to ask for help; after all, no one expects you to know it all by yourself. While it can seem quite intimidating, remember that you’re not alone and everyone’s going through the same thing, and most people are generally willing to help out!

Change Your Mindset

“If I don’t study, then I don’t get a good mark and then I’ll never accomplish anything”. “I have to study because I can’t fail cause I don’t want to be a failure”. These are common thoughts that probably arise in every student’s mind during finals season, but these thoughts aren’t helpful – in fact, they might actually hinder you and prevent you from performing your best. Instead of thinking of exams as an obstacle, think of them as a way to demonstrate all the knowledge you’ve learned during the semester. Exams aren’t there only for grades, but to test your learning; if you truly learned something, it’ll be reflected in your mark!

Have A Reason

Do you want to become a doctor to save lives? A lawyer to advocate for people’s rights? An artist to create art and bring forth passion and emotions in people? Whatever it is that you’re doing right now, have a reason for doing it. Keep your end goal in mind, and use it as fuel to remind yourself the reason behind all your studying when you start to hit a wall and feel hopeless. In the end, it’ll all pay off.

“Defeating procrastination is the same thing as gaining control over your own life.”

Health – Mental and Physical

Move Your Body!

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and “feel-good” hormones, which help combat stress. Moving your body will help you stay energized and ensures that you don’t get as drained from all the studying you’re doing!

Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthy

I’m sure you’ve all heard this before – make sure to drink enough water so that you don’t get dehydrated. Remember that “you are what you eat” (figuratively, not literally), so if you fill your body with whole foods and natural foods rather than junk food, you’ll feel much better, energy levels will be higher, and you might even find that you can concentrate better and think clearer.

Take Breaks

This is crucial to getting through the finals grind. We may be tempted to sit for hours at a time, not moving, to get some studying done, but in reality, we don’t work like that. Generally, we can’t concentrate for extended periods of time (I’m talking  5 hours at a time), and we tend to get frustrated and our brain gets foggy. Instead, look into other methods of studying, such as the Pomodoro method mentioned above. Study in 25 minute chunks (or whatever works for you) and then give yourself a 5-10 minute break when that time is up. Try not to only go on your phone during those break times: stretch out your legs, do some jumping jacks, grab a snack, etc. You’ll feel more refreshed and ready to take on your next round of studying!

Clear Your Head

If you feel frustrated, unmotivated, or tired, it may be best to walk away from the work and studying rather than sitting there and continuing it. Go for a walk (weather permitting), listen to some relaxing music, read a book, write in your journal; do something that de-stresses you and clears your mind. It may be finals season and we may all be extra stressed, but that’s no reason to eliminate everything “fun” from your life.


This is crucial and an often overlooked part of the studying process. You need to sleep in order for your brain to absorb all the information. When you sleep, your brain processes everything that’s happened that day, including everything you’ve studied, and that’s when what you’ve learned truly gets implanted into your memory. Figure out how much sleep you need every night in order to feel your best, and don’t stray too far away from that. Yes, sleep might seem useless, but trust me, getting enough sleep is much more important that you’d expect.

“You must go through temporary pain to gain long-term fulfillment in anything that you want to apply in your life.”

Perhaps the most important thing you can do during exam season is to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. You’ve already made it this far, and if you look at the exam as a way to test all the knowledge you’ve learned rather than a way to get the highest mark, you’ll be more willing to truly learn and understand the material.

“You make mistakes because you’re focusing on the target and not on your actions.”

Remember to focus on YOUR actions and what YOU’RE doing, not anyone else around you. You are your own person, so keep it up and focus on yourself!

All the best and good luck to all those taking finals!



One Reply to “The Finals Grind”

  1. […] finals time for a lot of university students, so I made a blog post about studying for finals – tips and tricks! Check it out here for more details, and please subscribed to while you’re there! […]

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