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The Mass Media

Ways to physically and mentally prepare for finals

Olivia Reid
Brian takes a break in between classes to free draw in the Campus Center. Photo by Olivia Reid / Mass Media Staff

It’s critical to establish healthy habits and consider and manage personal wellness as one prepares for examinations, progresses through the semester and moves towards finals. Getting worried and anxious is common, and maintaining healthy habits is one of the first things to go, in favor of a more intensive study session. 

Getting quality sleep can help students concentrate and focus during the day. It’s also when information moves from short-term to long-term memory in the brain. If one isn’t getting enough sleep when studying and preparing for exams, the brain won’t be able to participate in that crucial memory transfer process. As sleep expert Dr. Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School said:

“During a night of sleep, some memories are strengthened. Research has shown that memories of certain procedures, like playing a melody on a piano, can actually improve while you sleep. Memories seem to become more stable in the brain during the deep stages of sleep” (1).

Regular exercise and movement improves the capacity to learn and remember information. Make sure to get some exercise on a daily basis; it will help to know and recall the materials needed for the test. When things get hectic, it’s another area of self-care that often gets neglected first, yet it’s one of the most vital activities for supporting the brain and memory.  As University College London says:

“Research shows that physical exercise releases proteins in the brain that can actually help improve your memory and increase your cognitive performance” (2). 

Support is essential, and it may take several forms for various people. Who can one contact or meet up with for a few minutes to talk about how they are feeling? It’s even more vital to know someone with whom one can communicate, and realize that they have a network of support when going through challenging days. Even simply saying hello and sharing what’s going on, getting a hug or planning ahead to meet after an exam can assist to put students’ minds at ease.

Academic support is also what one might need when they are struggling with keeping up with the class. Hence, UMass Boston’s academic support programs are there to help prepare for an upcoming exam. The academic support programs offer a variety of tutoring and tutorial formats to support students in their undergraduate and graduate coursework. If any students feels that they aren’t doing well in a particular subject, then they should definitely go and meet the tutors. Tutors from both the Writing Nook and Reading, Writing, and Study Strategies Center teach multiple writing classes per week in the Academic Support Office and East Residence Hall, as well as a number of drop-in group workshops at various times during the semester. 

When working or studying hard, the brain has to fight distractions to focus on the task at hand. As the brain expends energy, this degree of focus becomes more difficult by the minute! After working so hard, one will need to recharge at some time in order to refill. As a result, while it may seem counterintuitive, taking frequent breaks might actually benefit students and may be more effective than working nonstop. 

Breaks that are effective might assist to lessen stress levels. Taking pauses while studying might really help to retain more information! If one finds themself becoming increasingly irritated or blocked on a certain work despite best efforts, it may be time to rest the brain and take a break. Joining a club is also a great idea. There are many clubs at UMass Boston for students to join. It can be art, sports or any recreational club where students can just relax and not think about the pending assignment or an upcoming exam. Exams are right around the corner, and getting the mind relaxed and stress-free before the finals week is what one should aim for. 

  1. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/sleep-it#:~:text=%E2%80%9CDuring%20a%20night%20of%20sleep,the%20deep%20stages%20of%20sleep

  2. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/news/2020/may/study-boosting-benefits-exercise

About the Contributors
Vansh Khokhani, Arts Writer
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor