7 Tips for Acing Your Final Exams


It’s April, which means that finals at Southeastern University are right around the corner. A few weeks ago, I shared some advice for university students from Donald Miller on how to avoid feeling overwhelmed. While most of that advice can apply to preparing for finals, today I want to talk specifically about how university students can relieve stress during finals. One of my favorite leadership resources, Enrichment Journal, highlighted 21 ways to relieve stress. While the journal’s primary goal is to equip ministry leaders, many of these tips are applicable to university students during finals.

If you’re already feeling in over your head about final exams, I hope my favorite ideas from that article will provide you with a practical game plan for attacking your final exam stress.

  1. Exercise regularly. Studies show that exercise is the best way to reduce stress during finals. Set aside 15–30 minutes each day to go to the gym, take a walk around campus, or ride a bike.
  2. Get in touch with friends. Relational time helps to buffer or alleviate stresses. Take five minutes during exam week to call an old friend from high school. Or arrange your calendar to give yourself time to hang out with friends at some point during the week.
  3. Journal through each day. Research shows that journaling can help relieve stress and reduce worry. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure of the scientific reasons why journaling helps relieve stress, it has been proven that writing down your thoughts and feelings each day can be a way to release your negative thoughts and emotions so you can move on to a happier state of mind.
  4. Take time each day to simply be quiet. Setting aside five minutes each day to simply sit in silence can provide you with the energy and clarity you need to attack your finals. It could be in the morning before you start your day, in the middle of the day to help you recharge, or at the end of the day to relax.
  5. Affirm and give thanks to people. When you take as little as 30 seconds to think of a few things you are truly thankful for, your body responds just as quickly as it does to stress. It could be as simple as letting the cafeteria workers know how much you appreciate them or taking a moment to write a note to a friend.
  6. Read/watch/tell something funny. Laughter reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more. I don’t care whether it’s watching your favorite sit-com or spending 10 minutes on YouTube—take some time to laugh during finals week.
  7. Get your diet balanced. I’m always amazed at how much better I feel when I’m keeping a balanced diet. In the same way that some elementary schools make sure their students have a chance to eat a healthy breakfast before standardized testing, make sure you’re consuming a balanced diet. It’s easy to eat late or eat unhealthy foods during finals week, but disciplining yourself in what and when you eat could make a big difference in your exam performance.

Best of luck to all of our SEU students—as well as university students across the country—as you prepare for finals during the next couple of weeks.

Students and graduates: Do you have any other tips or rituals that help you relieve stress during finals?