My Life/Teen Life

How to NOT Crash and Burn During Finals

There was a routine part of my life that scared me like nothing else did similarly. It wasn’t going to the dentist or watching scary movies around Halloween… it was exam season.

Finals can prove to be a tough time with several challenges associated with it. With exams carrying a large part of GPA weight, essay page minimums that look like a Tolkien novel, and deadlines that look so close together it reminds you of 5 o’clock traffic, it seems that finals season and high stress accompany each other. One minute you’re cruising through work and the next, the tidal wave of upcoming assignments and exams hit.

Through a lot (and I mean a LOT) of trial and error in my high school and current college careers, I have learned a handful of lessons about how to make finals season not only bearable but fruitful as well.

Above All Else, Give it to God

Nothing else in this piece will be as important as this; give everything to Him. When school gets hectic, and it seems like every day you’re struggling to keep up with deadlines, the option to skip prayer/mass seems like a very tempting option. Let me stress that if anything, times of high stress are times when we need to pray more and dive even deeper into the sacraments. Yes, it is very much possible to get good grades without prayer, but without prayer, it becomes very easy to begin to see grades as what defines our existence. Our identity is in the Lord and losing that knowledge is worse than any bad grade on an exam.

Speaking of prayer, let us not forget that there are saints that are eager to help us with our academic challenges. If you aren’t sure who to pray to, know that there is no wrong answer when we ask for help from the saints. In particular, St. Joseph of Cupertino (patron saint of studying) is someone that has come in clutch for me during exam season. If you’re looking for someone to pray when it comes to essays, St. Francis de Sales (patron saint of Catholic writers and adult education) is someone that you should consider asking intercession from, but again, there is no “bad” saint to pray to in any situation.

One Thing At a Time

When I would look at everything I had to do during finals season, it seemed like this unclimbable mountain of work and studying that had to be done. In the same way that people don’t climb mountains with one gigantic stride, finals can’t be crammed and completed in one study session. It is by slowly but surely working our way up the mountain and focusing on one assignment at a time that we reach the end.

Yes, finals season tends to require more time and energy spent on academics than normal but it is not impossible. While the list of tasks that teachers give that during finals season might seem to be ridiculously long, the work becomes much less overwhelming and much more possible when we examine and deal with each task separately.

Time Management

It’s a skill that many (myself included) have to learn the hard way but proper time management is crucial. If the regular school year did not force you to manage your time wisely, then finals will do the trick. When the quota for assignments needed to be done for classes escalates, time seems to be like even more of a valuable resource than it usually is.

Schedule out what you’re going to study when (this works even when it’s not finals season). Instead of getting home and saying “I’ll study later,” make a set time to study and mark out what you’re going to work on during that time. It will make your studying feel less like you’re floating aimlessly through space and more like you have a set objective and are taking actual steps towards accomplishing it.

Another critical aspect of time management is knowing where/when are you most productive. While yes, I could write an essay while watching The Office and texting my friends at the same time, I know that I’m not nearly as productive as I could be if I just focused on the task at hand with no distractions. Once you find out what settings you are most productive in, make efforts to be within that situation as much as you can. This requires a lot of honesty with yourself, but figuring out which surroundings are best for you and working within said surroundings can help a tremendous amount.

Keep it in Perspective

During exam season, the overwhelming amount of things that need to get done create an unfortunate opportunity for Satan to feed us lies about how we feel about ourselves. Spiritual attack comes at us when we are at our weakest and when we’re attacked during times of extreme busyness, it’s easy to ignore it because other things might seem more important. Nothing is more valuable than your well-being, and it’s critical that we never forget that God’s love triumphs over all.

Finals require a lot of focus and dedication to get everything done, but in the stress of finals, we cannot forget the truth that our identity is not rooted in our GPA. It’s rooted in God. While the final grades determine our success in school academically, our worth is determined by the Passion. Live in the freedom of knowing our Lord’s love for you. But don’t forget to study!

About the Author

Dillon Duke

Of all the blessings that God has given me, the ones that particularly stand out are family, french fries and football. I'm currently a Communications student at the University of Houston but I'm hoping to get into Hogwarts for graduate school. You can find my music recommendations and dad-jokes at twitter @dillduke

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