It’s that time of year again. Spring is in the air, the weather is getting warmer, and finals are quickly approaching. For many students, the last few weeks of school can be an overwhelming whirlwind of stress and anxiety. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. In order to effectively prepare for finals and dramatically reduce stress, take the following steps.

Step 1: Start Scheduling

It’s easy to wait until the very last minute to start preparing for finals, but doing so will cost you valuable study time. Decide today to write down when all of your final exams will take place on a month-long calendar. This will help you see how much time you have to study and how many exams you have in the same week. Thinking ahead will give you more time to prepare.

Step 2: Identify Resources

After you’ve plotted out when your exams will take place, identify your resources. Write out which lecture notes, textbook materials and articles will help you prepare for each of your exams. In addition, visit your professor’s office hours, go to tutoring, or sit in on a review session in order to prep for your finals. These are resources will help you do well!

Step 3: Take Inventory

After identifying resources, it’s important to identify the most important topics in each of your courses so you know how to prioritize your studying. This will help you focus on the most important exam material. Additionally, it’s also a good idea to identify the exam material you feel most confident about as well as the material you still need to learn. Doing so will help you further prioritize your study time.

Step 4: Identify Study Strategies

Once you’ve taken inventory, the next step is to identify the study strategies you'll use to maximize your efforts. Will you create flashcards, use visual aids, or create outlines? Remember that at the end of each study session it’s important to create a tangible product that reflects what you’ve learned. Good study strategies involve creating tangible learning products that serve as proof that you’ve learned something. If there is no product at the end of your study time, chances are you haven’t learned anything.

Step 5: Create a Study Plan

Finally, once you’ve followed the steps above, you can create a study plan. In order to successfully prepare for an exam, give yourself at least five days to study. Break your exam material into manageable chunks that you can prepare and review each day of your study plan. Give yourself enough time in between your study sessions and make sure to include breaks!

Taking these steps will keep you from feeling overwhelmed the week of finals. As always, you can also set up an appointment with an academic coach.

Happy studying!