Students should consider using academic resources available on campus to alleviate stress while studying for final exams.
A 2016 MentalHelp study surveyed 1000 college students who were asked about their most significant sources of stress, and about 31% of students blamed final exams.
Finals can be one of the most stressful moments in a college student’s career. The task of spending long hours of note-taking, reviewing and cramming is a tall order if a student is balancing a part-time job, family duties or a social life. If unchecked, long hours can quickly lead to burnout.
According to MentalHelp, “Anxiety surrounding testing is a serious issue for college students, as worrying about their performance on the test itself can distract students from focusing on schoolwork and studying, which can negatively affect their exam grades.”
A Tower article also delved into the realities of final exam stress. The author, Sabrina Wolfson, discussed how students feel during finals week and even mentioned a quote from Brown University’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
According to Brown University, “One of the most common scholastic impairments in our schools today is that approximately 16-20 percent of students have high test anxiety; an additional 18 percent struggling with moderately-high test anxiety.”
Test anxiety can be even more of a stressor if a student struggles during any type of exam, only growing worse around finals week. Because most final exams take up a significant chunk of a student’s grade—about 20%—they can make a big difference in whether they will pass or fail the class.
Failing can, of course, hinder the student from moving further in their college career, holding them back from their intended graduation date. This could lead to other issues such as a lack of financial aid in the following semester, scheduling conflicts or even severe anxiety. Therefore, passing final exams are imperative for a student’s overall success.
These studies may have some age on them, but the sentiment about final exam anxiety rings true today. One could argue that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may amplify the stress. For the past two years, most universities have been forced to shut down and hold virtual graduation ceremonies to comply with social distancing regulations.
In recent years, colleges have offered their support to their overworked students. Kennesaw State, for example, holds a week of finals-based activities to bring relief to the students. From cooking demos to stress management workshops, these activities can provide comfort—even if it is just for a moment—during such a stressful time. These programs can last between twenty minutes to an hour and are held by friendly and knowledgeable KSU staff.
Taking a study break is always encouraged during finals week because it can help ease a student’s anxieties. Taking twenty minutes out of the day to try a new recipe or learn some great study hacks can help break up the monotony of a hectic day of cramming. There is also an opportunity to make new friends going through the same stressful finals week.