There’s no point sugarcoating it: finals are hell. Book-filled, tear-sodden and Berocca-fuelled hell. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the stress; you just have to get your head down and think of July.
Having recently come out of my final year in one piece, I thought I’d share some advice on how you can survive it too.
1. Start early
Time snowballs exceedingly quickly and you will constantly wish you had more time. While you can’t add time on at the end, you can add it at the beginning. The earlier you start working the better. Before the start of your last autumn term, read the books, research the essays or revise something from last year.
2. Find a routine
A routine gets you into good habits and allows you to plan ahead. Have a regular bedtime, a dinner time, maybe even a meal plan, a workout time and a wake-up time. You’ll get into a strange zombie-like but productive routine and power through the year.
3. Use library resources
As part of my dissertation module, I was given a lecture on how to make the most of the university library. It completely opened my eyes and I wish I’d known all the information sooner; there are specific ways to optimise your search results in search engines and academic databases, and there is such a thing as an interlibrary loan (ILL) if your uni hasn’t got something you need. Make great use of this because original research often bridges the gap between grade boundaries.
4. Keep healthy
If ever there was a time to be operating at 100%, it’s your final year. Eat a varied diet, exercise, get your eight hours sleep a night and take supplements – omegas and multivitamins do make a difference!
5. Allow yourself to socialise
As I mentioned, you need a routine but it can render you zombie-like. Don’t be afraid to spend some time socialising in order to make you feel like you again; if partying is a part of who you are, a night out every now and then is completely allowed – just remember that this often writes off revision for the following day.
Talking about being stressed can relieve stress in itself so don’t be afraid to voice how you’re feeling. It’s often better to do this with non-uni friends or parents because your uni friends will be in the same boat so you can’t make it all about you. However, try and keep to weekly chats that you can make the most of rather than sporadic vents when you’re feeling a bit aggy.
7. Never compare yourself to others
Some are working harder than they let on and others are doing much less work than they say. Either way, it doesn’t matter because everybody works differently and everybody has slightly different workloads. Just remember, using someone else’s progress to make you feel better about your own is completely unproductive.
8. Keep an eye on your money
Being stressed and out of money is miserable. You want to be able to eat proper meals after a hard day at the library rather than beans on toast for the fifth night in a row. You also want to be able to buy a coffee at the library without feeling guilty. Be as thrifty as you can at the beginning of term because you’ll want all the money you can get at the end.
9. Get a good amount of sleep
Sleep is so important for making the most of your time. Don’t force yourself to use the 24hr service at the library with energy drinks and ProPlus. Always get to bed before midnight and revel in the fact that sleep is good and that being in bed is a happy necessity for final year.
10. Make plans for afterwards
Give yourself something to look forward to after exams. At times when the sun is shining and your will is wavering, it can help immensely to have plans for after this ghastly but finite period of your life. These plans could also be a job – knowing your degree will directly lead you somewhere is a very motivating feeling (well, probably anyway… I didn’t have a job lined up).
Emily Reay, University of Nottingham French and Chinese graduate