Whether in your last semester or just finishing a term, it can be quite stressful to handle all requirements as a student. This is especially true if the finals are coming up in a few days or weeks. Final exam prep can challenge your time management skills and your mental capacity to remember all the lessons taught for your respective courses.

The Reality of Final Exam Prep

Times have changed in the contents of final exams and how students prepare for them. In a study posted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 20% of college students reportedly take some form of drugs or other illicit substances to prepare for exams.

Some of the most common substances used by students include:

  • Alcohol – 1,200 underage students ages 18-20 are reported to drink more alcohol in a study of 450,000 participants. These habits start to peak around June, amounting to 1,883 average underage students per day.

  • Marijuana – a combined study from 2010-2013 showed that 383,000 college students used this drug, averaging to around 1,000 users per day.

  • Stimulant medications – non-medical use of stimulants such as Adderall peaks around the months of November, December, and April for students. Also known as the “study drug,” Adderall and other stimulants reportedly help students stay awake during study periods.

The Dangers of Substances in Final Exam Prep

Like any other form of substance misuse, alcohol, marijuana, and other stimulant medications illicitly can lead to potentially dangerous health consequences.

  • Substance dependency – through continued use of alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, or stimulants, students may become dependent and use them regardless of final exam prep instances or not. Substance dependency can lead to unwanted mental, emotional, and physical changes. It could also get in the way of your schooling since you may need to enter a drug rehab to deal with the issues.

  • Substance overdose – as substance dependency develops, tolerance grows, which leads to a more dangerous complication such as overdose. This happens when the body cannot process the substances being taken, damaging vital organs. Substance overdose can be fatal when left untreated.

Resorting to substance use isn’t the end-all-be-all of final exam prep. There are healthy ways to get ready for your tests. Here are some of them.

Healthy Ways to Prepare for your Final Exams

1. Allot at least 30-60 minutes a day to cover your required readings.

The best way to engage in final exam prep is to activate your long-term memory and comprehension of the lessons in your subjects. This is done by setting aside time to cover your readings at least 30-60 minutes a day. Spending time with your readings helps you to absorb information over time that can be useful as you head over the final exam week.

Doing this can also help you avoid the mental strain of trying to recall everything all at once. Taking in small portions everyday, even early on, can help you understand, integrate, and remember your lessons which will making your final review time a breeze.

2. Avoid cramming.

Cramming isn’t only stressful, it also lowers your chances of acing your finals. An article published by SeattlePI showed that cramming alters your mental and emotional states, making you prone to memory blocks and even panic attacks during the exam day. Although panic attacks are fairly uncommon for people not suffering from anxiety disorders, stress can manifest itself through the loss of analytical skills, poor comprehension of instructions, and other things that could have been avoided sans the cramming.

To prevent this from happening, your study times should be set days or weeks in advance. There are time management tools that can give you reminders on what to study on the days to come. For example, if you have 8 modules and 5 days to study, you can study 2 of them per day for 4 days, and do a comprehensive review on the last day.

3. Try out some mock tests.

Mock tests give you an idea of what substantive points are in each chapter of a text or subject your are studying. These can be found at the end chapter of books, or there are also resources that cover general topics found online. Mock tests aid greatly in final exam prep because they help set a tone with the types of questions that may be asked, making it possible for you to rehearse your answers beforehand.

4. Find a productive study group.

Studying alone can sometimes be difficult for students because no one is present to motivate them. When you are in a group where everybody participates, it motivates you to study harder. Additionally, you can also exchange questions and answers back and forth. You can compare and share notes, and your study buddies may give you useful insight that may be helpful in the final exam prep.

Ideal places to have a study group session include your school’s library, a low-noise cafe, or a public study center. These places can help lessen the temptations to do something unrelated to studying.

Succeed with Your Finals–in a Healthy Way!

With the proper preparation and time management skills, students do not need to take substances or cram during sleepless nights. Although preparing for your finals can be difficult, it is definitely manageable through discipline and good habits.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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