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Get ready to sharpen those pencils and dust off those textbooks because finals week is here. For many students, this time of the quarter brings an ample amount of stress, feelings of anxiousness and dread. But don’t sweat — here are a few tips that might help you ace this exam.

Practice neutral and positive affirmations

Positive affirmations like “I got this!” or  “I’m a great student,” or “I will pass this class,” are great ways to give an added boost to one’s mood and remind oneself of their capabilities. However, one study from the University of Waterloo found positive affirmations are most effective when one is already in a relatively positive headspace. The study found for those with low-self esteem, using positive affirmations might make the problem worse because they’re  incongruent with the well-established negative thinking. Therefore, if tricky exam questions coupled with piles of homework leave you feeling inadequate or unsure of their ability to pass — consider using neutral affirmations. Neutral affirmations such as “I am okay,” or “It’s okay to make mistakes,” are the first steps towards breaking the bubble of negative thoughts and making steps towards being able to do positive affirmations.

Ask Questions

As the old saying goes — a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. Failure to ask questions during or after class time means missing out on opportunities to get the assistance or tips for the exam. Be sure to take advantage of your professor’s office hours and pick their brain about your final assignments. You might learn something new or they may give you advice that will ease a bit of your stress. If you can’t make time to talk to your professor, try asking a classmate for help or advice.

Review the Powerpoints

Prior to transferring to UW Tacoma, I had a professor who would lace study guide answers throughout her powerpoints. By the time finals week rolled around, she found the students who attended classes religiously and took great notes from the powerpoint slides had the highest scores. Though I don’t expect every professor to be as extreme, it is still important for students to check the powerpoint slides their professor presents in class or shares on canvas. You never know what hidden gems await there.

Get lots of rest

Believe it or not, late night cram sessions are not good for your brain. In fact, many researchers — such as Texas A&M’s sleep expert David Earnest — have found sleep deprivation leaves a “staggering effect on the brain’s memory.” With each hour the brain is deprived of sleep your “brain loses efficiency.” Try setting an alarm that’ll alert you to stop studying and head to bed. Drink chamomile tea or invest in a weighted blanket. Get your power sleep.

Take mini-quizzes

Before every exam, I like to quiz myself. If I have a study guide, I practice answering each question. If a study guide is not available to me, I create my own and drill myself about the answers. Mini quizzes are a great way to retain information and help you prepare for what is to come.

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