Advice with the Arts Editor: Taking care of yourself this finals season


Students studying in Healey Library in preparation for their finals. Photo by Saichand Chowdary (He/Him) / Mass Media Staff.

Rena Weafer, Arts Editor

Finals season is nearly upon us and many students are already feeling the stress. With deadlines approaching and summer just around the corner, it’s difficult to just focus, never mind plan time to study so you can actually do well. Here are a few things that might help you get through these next couple weeks.

Set aside a time at the beginning of the week to plan out what you need to get done. It might be helpful to do this in a group so you can hold each other accountable. I do this by writing a full list of everything that I need to do that week. Then, whenever I sit down to study or complete an assignment, I already know what I need to do.

If it’s helpful, plan out specific times to do each task. However, I find that this can be discouraging if things don’t work out exactly the way I had planned them to, so do what works for you.

When it comes time to sit down and complete assignments, work in manageable chunks. You aren’t going to get everything done at once, so don’t set up that expectation for yourself. For some people, it’s easy to work in 30 minute increments and take small breaks in between. I find it easier to work in two to three hour periods either once or twice a day, depending on how much I need to get done. It’s all a matter of what you know you can do.

If you have an essay due instead of an exam, you have much more time to work with. Start planning your essay and getting your outline together as early as you can. That way you can really maximize your time and get as many revisions done as possible.

UMass Boston has many resources to help students succeed in their exams. The tutoring center is available for many 100 and 200-level courses. Get in touch by emailing [email protected]. The writing center is also available to help students with essays. Appointments can be made on their website at

More important than doing well on your exams is taking care of yourself. Make sure you’re taking breaks. You can’t do well if you don’t have the mental capacity to retain any information. Breaks are as important if not more important than the studying itself, because you need the time to decompress and digest the information rather than just cramming and hoping it sticks.

Also, try maximizing your breaks. Don’t just take five minutes between three hour long study sessions because that isn’t helping anyone. If you find yourself taking full days to study, then you need a full day break. Take your time relaxing and rejuvenating between study sessions.

Don’t use your breaks to go over the information in your head, or to worry about your upcoming exam. You just need to focus on yourself. This can be going for a walk, calling friends or family, going out to eat, watching a movie, whatever pleases you. Letting loose for one day isn’t going to affect the outcome of your semester. You will still pass and you will also feel better internally after doing so.

As difficult as it is to do, accept that you might not do as well as you wanted to do. That’s okayyou really just need to pass, and if you don’t, don’t beat yourself up for it. It happens to the best of us. Focus on self-compassion and loving yourself no matter the outcome of these exams. They don’t define you.