Often, we are surprised by how quickly finals week rolls around, even if the professor has been talking about the final exam since the beginning of the semester. High levels of stress during finals can have a negative impact on a student mentally, physically, and emotionally. In order to avoid episodes of extreme frustration and worrying, here are five tips to help you manage the stress and studying that comes along with finals in a healthy and proactive manner.

Use a rewards system

Find a way to treat yourself after accomplishing a task. Whether it is hanging out with friends for a couple of hours or watching your favorite TV show, the reward should be equivalent to the work completed. If you had finished reading a 30-page chapter, going away for the weekend would not be appropriate. Instead, call up a friend to go on a quick ice cream break. Save the weekend trip for when you’ve completed all of your final assignments and exams.

Make studying more creative

Reading through chapter after chapter can become a tedious task and only makes it worse for students if they find the material boring since they will be more likely to forget the information that they just read. In order to liven up studying, read over your notes and create a story to review what you have just read. The function of proteins or a psychology theory can turn into a storyline that will be more memorable for the student or a study group. Or match your notes to music by writing a song about the subject material or replacing lyrics to a song you already know with your notes. Better to have that song in your head right before a final exam than a Top-40 song!

Block online distractions

In today’s world of technology, college students always have their smartphones and laptops by their sides whether they are in class or studying at the library. A two-hour period dedicated to studying occurs when you read the textbook and summarize each section in the chapter for that entire block of time. Spending 1 ½ hours playing a game on your phone and then spending the last half hour reading over notes does not qualify as productive studying. To help stay focused on course material, I know that some students use applications like Self Control (Macs) or Cold Turkey (PCs) in order to block social media during their study time.

Speed up recorded material

For those who like to record lectures and listen to them at a later time, it sometimes becomes an issue when there are pauses in the lecture and valuable time is wasted waiting for the professor to begin talking again. Why not speed up the audio to reduce your waiting time? In the past, I have used, programs like Audacity (it’s free!), which lets you record audio files and then speed through them so that you can maximize your time spent listening. If you need a lecture to be slowed down, then a recording program like this allows you to adjust the audio speed at your convenience.

Schedule an appointment with an academic coach

When studying for multiple exams at once becomes overwhelming, academic coaching is a fantastic resource at any of the Rutgers Learning Centers. Academic coaching helps students learn about effective strategies for various skills like time management, organization of exam material, and of course, studying. Once you are aware of these methods, you can apply them by creating a study schedule, developing a 5 day study plan for exams and using relaxation techniques to de-stress. One appointment can make all the difference in guiding you towards success on finals!

Meet With a Coach