Preparing for Finals: How to Finish Strong!

By Isabel Moya | April 25, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Preparing for Finals: How to Finish Strong!

Studying for exams

As the year comes to a close, do you feel overwhelmed and stressed? Are you drowning in the million pages of notes you need to learn before you are home free? The last month of school can put pressure on students to finish the academic school year strong. But with finals back-to-back, how can you do that?

First and foremost, give it your best shot. My teacher in the fourth grade had a poster on his wall that read, “Always believe in yourself. You never know what you’re capable of until you try.” If you have practiced good study habits throughout the semester, you are already well on your way to keeping that stress level from rising. Nevertheless, that does not mean that finals will come easy for you. So what do you do? 

For me, I first make a list of the exams I have and put a big star next to the ones I know are going to take more effort and more of my time to study for. If I can, and the last week of classes are not too stressful, I start studying early. Studying a little bit every day helps me familiarize myself with the material so that when the time comes to really buckle down and focus, it is much easier to learn. Because note-taking is one of my strengths, I like reading my notes out loud over and over again until I have learned the material. I literally talk out loud to myself! My parents used to say that I was trying to fill up a bottle with as much information as I could, cap it, and later open it for the test.

Then, I go back to the book with my notes to get a better understanding of the material and to work through questions at the end of the chapter. If there is still something I am struggling with, I either talk to a classmate, or I go to the professor. The professors understand the pressure students feel during finals, and they do their best to be available as much as possible. 

If I have too many hard tests back-to-back and a limited amount of time to study all of the material, I make sure not to waste any time. Instead of spending hours on one class, I set schedules for myself, stop what I am doing, and switch to the next subject. This way, I set short-term goals, and I keep myself from getting too worked up over one subject when things are just not entering my head. This usually makes me feel like I get more accomplished because by lunchtime, I have already studied two different subjects. However, I found that when I do not stick to a schedule, my stress level and my ability to think clearly decrease because I am so focused on one specific class and worry that my time is running out for the next one. My method of studying may be different from others, and it is important to find what best works for you. 

During finals, it is also important to take care of yourself. Take  advantage of any breaks you can get. Your brain needs time to absorb and to retain the information. Constantly studying for a final can actually overwhelm you and cause you to remember less. When lunchtime comes, do not look at or talk about the material. It is a study free zone! Campbell’s library, Campus Actives Board (CAB), and residence halls also plan exam breaks for students to help them relieve stress and to have fun. If you are struggling with the material and it just is not working for you, take a step back and take a break. Once you have had your delicious gourmet cupcake or popped some balloons or threw some marshmallows, tackle the problem again with fresh eyes and a clear mind. It will make a difference.

I am also not one to stay up all night and study. They say that you retain more information the longer you sleep. I hit a stopping point and stick to it! I usually stop at midnight, but if I need more time, I will not go past 1 a.m. It is important for you to get the rest your body and brain need to take on the final the next day. I also do not touch my notes or book at all an hour before the final. I may get up early to study, but an hour before the test, I do not touch that material and I do the same thing when talking about it. The closer the exam gets, the more anxious and nervous I feel. I do not need anyone else asking me questions or hearing others review the material that I know I have already reviewed and studied. It would make me freak out and blank on the test. It has happened to me on several exams, and I learned the hard way with a class that I had to retake. Now, I enter that exam, sit in my seat, pray, and block all noises. I suggest that you too find a happy place and not think about the exam. Finding out what increases your anxiety during exam time is key to managing stress. 

A note of encouragement:
If you give it your best and you try your hardest, you should be proud of yourself for coming this far. Remember, you are getting a college education, one that for some may not be possible. Whatever you do, do not give up. Like my father always says, “Don’t forget that you are already above average. You have an opportunity to set yourself apart from everyone else. You have taken the first step, and that begins with you just being in college.”

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Meet Isabel Moya

Isabel Moya


Clinical Research




Laurel, MD

My Story

People often ask me how I found out about Campbell University.  It was by chance that I found Campbell.  I was researching schools in North Carolina that also had a pharmacy school.  After my research, I decided why not? I was willing to take the risk even without visiting.  Campbell was the first school I applied to and my first acceptance into college.  After visiting other schools I applied to, none really appealed to me.  I narrowed it down to two schools, and when I finally visited Campbell, I was in love.  It was perfect! I had found a home away from home.  That was when I decided to go to the school that had found me.
I come from a family with a unique background. My parents are from Puerto Rico and Cuba.  My father is the cook of the family, and my mother is the baker.  When at home, I love waking up in the mornings to loud salsa music playing, the smell of my mother’s pancakes, and my father whistling while making his coffee.  This happened quite a lot when it was nearing a birthday.  My birthday parties were not your normal birthday parties.  I remember my twin sister, Cristina saying one year, “The balloons are good, the cake is good, but a PIG?”  My father would spend the time cooking a pig in the backyard, and he would invite all of our friends and family over to the house to eat pig.  Every year, the pig would taste better and better!  I love helping my father cook and not just for the special events.  Over the years, I have gained a love for cooking.  I love to invent and try new recipes and taste my creations.  I love to cook with the music playing and dance along.   Sadly, I am not a chef, but maybe one day I will pick up the family tradition of cooking the perfect pig in the backyard!

My mom and dad are the two most important people in my life, and I am so thankful to have such great parents.  They worked hard to create the perfect family atmosphere for my sisters and me to grow up in.  Every birthday and holiday or weekend, we were surrounded with family, friends, food, dancing, and karaoke.  Every dinner was a family dinner, and there was always a family movie afterwards.  Sharing a room with both my twin sister and my younger sister, only by a year, made that sister  bond even stronger.  On nights when we were not tired, we would stay up and build tents together, talk to each other if we couldn’t sleep, or if one had a bad dream, we would sleep in the same bed comforting one another.  My mother once said that a teacher told her she had never seen three sisters that love each other so much.  I am proud to come from such a great family!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the blogger on this page are their own. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Campbell University Undergraduate Admissions Office.

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