As the end of the schoolyear is fast approaching, students across the nation brace for the anxiety that so often accompanies comprehensive examinations. In addition to the need to prepare academically with effective and consistent study habits, students preparing to be assessed also need to ensure that they are mentally prepared to conquer those challenging exams.
Mental fitness includes ensuring that the students maintain an adequate level of sleep and consistent sleep patterns. While finals week will never be the time for lengthy naps and supplemental sleep, it is a critical time for them to get enough sleep to function effectively. Ideally, students need to set aside a regular bedtime and wake time. Even if this is amended from 8 hours to 6 hours per night, the body will respond more productively than trying to skip one or more entire night’s sleep in an effort to cram the content into one’s memory. Furthermore, an absence of adequate sleep often propels students to consume additional caffeine-laden drinks in an attempt to stay awake. Often times this strategy results in even more difficulty functioning as the student will find himself or herself in a state of heightened anxiety brought on by these beverages. According to Sutterhealth.org, some specific side effects of an overabundance of caffeine include, an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, insomnia, dehydration, restlessness, digestive issues, muscle breakdown, and fatigue.
Other aspects of mental preparedness for finals include some basic nutrition to sustain one’s energy level through the course of the exams. While at least two balanced meals per day are essential, the students should also stock up on healthy snacks early so that they are not distracted by a trip to the grocery. Some excellent recommendations include energy or protein bars, peanut butter, granola bars, fresh fruit, crackers, canned fruit in natural juices, and healthy cereal with milk. Student should also be certain to hydrate adequately by keeping fresh water accessible at all times.
Organization is another key component of the less stressed and mentally focused student preparing for finals. By organizing one’s materials throughout the semester, preparing for finals only requires study, review, and practice of the existing materials. For students who are less organized, they often sacrifice critical study time trying to put their materials into some sense of order. Then, they still have to dedicate the hours processing and practicing the material and concepts to ensure comprehension.
Undoubtedly, preparing for comprehensive final exams will never be the highlight of a student’s academic experience. However, by ensuring that students prepare themselves by maintaining adequate sleep patterns, nutrition, hydration, and organization, they can position themselves to maximize the time available to deliver the most positive results available.
Dr. Angela Farmer is a lifelong educator, an author, and a syndicated columnist. She serves Mississippi State University as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Honors Education for the Shackouls Honors College where she can be reached at [email protected]