On Stress: Before the Storm

I am ecstatic to be an addition to this blog with my mom and sister, and am grateful to my mom for this idea of joining our worlds together in one congruent and easy to access place. The three of us live such different lives, and will add such varying content to this platform, and I am eager to see how it turns out. That being said, Hi. My name is Diana and I am a second year Materials Science and Engineering student at Georgia Tech. Finals week is fast approaching, and if you know anything about Tech (or any college for that matter), you know that finals week is an obtrusive, anxiety-ridden, sleep-lacking hell week. Naturally, my first blog series is going to be on managing and coping with stress, anxiety, and confidence.

I am two days away from my first two finals, and I would hardly call this period the “Calm Before the Storm”. More like the “Pressure Before the Storm”. It’s the period where your last homework and quiz grades come in, and you frantically calculate the absolute lowest grade you can get on your final to make an A in the class…maybe a B…or at least passing. It’s the period where the overwhelming amount of material you covered in the past semester bears all its weight on your shoulders and forces you to beg the questions, “Did I actually learn all of this? Did we seriously cover that many chapters? Is my professor crazy? Wow, this is a lot.” It’s the period where you wear sweats every day, and have to force yourself to find time to eat, sleep, and do normal human things.

This is my 5th semester, and thus my 5th round of finals (4 semesters is probably more accurate; as my mom likes to put it I was “gallivanting around Europe” last summer on study abroad, and finals were hardly present, let alone difficult). I’d like to think that I’ve come to know what to do and what not to do in order to prepare. Here is a small list of things to do in preparation for finals week:

1.     Make a plan and stick to it. Prepare when you will study for what class, and what classes take precedence.

2.     In planning, set easily obtainable goals. Something that you will be able to achieve every day or hour. This will hugely increase your confidence and momentum.

3.     Make sure to take breaks in between studying. A useful tool for this is the “Tomato Timer”. It forces intervals of productivity and breaks, and has a high proven success rate. You can find it here, and read more about it here.

4.     Write, don’t just read. Writing things down will greatly increase your chance of remembrance and accurate recollection.

5.     Sleep. The absolute worst thing you can do before an exam is not sleep the night or week before. Sleeping an extra couple of hours and being in a healthy state of mind is worth way more than the material you could have crammed in that time.

I genuinely hope these few words of advice might help anyone in preparation, whether that be for an exam, project, or presentation. I will talk to you next week, with advice for what to do when you are in the middle of hell week and actually taking exams!