How to survive finals (without going totally crazy)

It’s almost that dreaded time of the year: Final exam week. Soon I, and tons of other teens, will retreat into pre-exam purgatory to pack in as much studying as humanly possible, powered only by the promise of tasting the freedom of summer break on the other side. Final exams, and all other tests, come with tons of stress and anxiety — but even though grades are important, it’s just as crucial to remember that they don’t define who you are. With all the pressure from parents and the continual expectation to do well, it’s hard not to get trapped in a whirling vortex of panic, measuring yourself solely by how well you perform on tests. As someone who’s found herself in that situation many, many times, I can totally empathize — but luckily, just as final exam time reliably comes around every year, there are some great, equally reliable ways to manage your stress. If you feel like your exams are going to come to life and crush you under all the pressure, take a look at the following tips to bite back at those pesky tests!

Take breaks. 

It’s a common study tip and one that I usually ignored until I actually tried it. When you stand up, stretch, and let your mind take a breather, you’re letting yourself rest, which is great for letting that info you worked so hard to understand sink into your brain. It also gives you the chance to get away from the monotony of constant note-taking and memorization. Watch an episode of a show on Netflix, eat a snack, or even surf the Internet for ten or fifteen minutes — it really pays off to give yourself a little mental vacation and you’ll feel super refreshed afterwards, ready to take on the challenge of studying new material.

Put it into perspective. 

When it comes to the grand scheme of life, is this quiz really gonna impact you as much as you think it will? Right now, it might seem like the most important thing in the world — like your entire world will fall apart if don’t do as well as you hoped. But think about it this way: twenty years later, will you even remember this exam? I’ll bet you almost anything you won’t…because you’ll have way too many memories of the other awesome, fun stuff you’ve done. Trust me, this one little test isn’t worth nearly as much as you think.

Go out with your friends! 

A lot of teens tend to shut themselves away from society when it comes time to buckle down and study for exams, which is a huge change from the regular social interaction that comes with going to school every day. Although it does help to limit distractions when studying, after a while the solitude has the opposite effect. I know that I, for one, tend to get restless if I spend too long without the company of others — and I usually compensate by wasting tons of time on Facebook and Instagram. To keep yourself focused and keep your head in the right frame of mind, it’s best to go out and see your friends every once in a while. See a local concert, go shopping as a group, or watch a new movie together: anything that gets you out of the house and lets you make great memories with the people you care about. It’ll take you away from the exam mindset and kick that stress out the door.

If you can’t spare the time, have your friends study with you. 

More minds means more ideas, and your friends might have an understanding of concepts you might not totally get by yourself. Your friends can help you through difficult patches and provide some much-needed light-hearted banter if things get too serious. Plus, it’s just more fun to have your friends around, even if all you’re doing is studying. It’s one of those unexplainable truths.


When you’ve been sitting for hours on end, it really does make a huge difference to move around and get your blood pumping. After a long study session, I find it really helps to go on a short run — nothing crazy, just fifteen or twenty minutes to wake myself up. I usually harbor a pretty strong dislike of cardio, but it always feels great to move after staring at the same books since your last bathroom break. Remember to drink tons of water and stay hydrated while you exercise, though — your brain runs on water, so make sure to keep it and the rest of your body happy to stay at the top of your game!

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: one bad mark will not define your entire life. It’s super, super important to always keep this in mind when you start stressing out over whether or not the mitochondria is really the powerhouse of the cell or worrying that you’ll totally blank out on the test. You’ve gotta remember that there’s way more to life than just school — there are too many people to meet, places to go, and things to do! Life is too short to spend it needlessly stressing out about grades — keep them in perspective and remember to balance school with your enjoyment of the finer things in life, and you’ll be totally fine, no sweat!

(Images via here, here, here, here, here, and here.)