Stress: The finals straw

Finals are nearly here again, and another semester is almost over. But what lies between now and winter break, for most students, is the biggest obstacle of all: finals.

A survey conducted by The Princeton Review found that 85 percent of students in the United States and Canada feel increased stress during exams.

Tovah Laster, freshman, said, “(Stress) affects me every possible way. I can’t sleep because I’m up all night thinking about everything that I have to do. It’s just really, really stressful.”

Robin Raskin, director of communications at The Princeton Review, said how students manage their stress can have a dramatic effect on their ability to perform.

“Some students are influenced a great deal – all are influenced to some degree,” professor Charles Spielberger said, adding that some students are aided by their anxiety.

There are many things that are suggested to help students deal with the stress. The Princeton Review and Wrigley – yes, the gum people – teamed up to study exam-time stress. The study found that large numbers of students are eating a lot of snack food and consuming caffeinated drinks to help to relieve stress and increase focus.

“These choices can lead to burnout for many students,” Raskin said. “Exam time has always been stressful, but loss of sleep, increased snacking, increased caffeine consumption and unhealthy snacking are surefire ways to create a less than optimal exam-time performance.”

Experts at The Princeton Review have compiled a few suggestions to help students study. They said it is better to socialize during study breaks. Also, students should experiment with different times to find the best study time and utilize a comfortable study area. The experts suggest an area with a comfortable chair, plenty of room, good lighting and good ventilation.

“For exams, to blow off stress I pretty much just play video games,” sophomore Robert Doud said. “I take walks, go out and try to watch movies. I just try to have fun and take my mind off of work.”

Spielberger offered different advice. He suggested students study as much as they can prior to the test and not to depend on learning the material the week before the test. Students need to utilize good study habits for the entire semester to succeed, he said. Spielberger continued by advising students to study for one test at a time.

Good test-taking skills are also important, according to Spielberger. He said that if a question raises confusion, students should skip it and come back.

“In responding to other items, there may be things that stimulate you to understand better that particular question,” he said, adding that those who have high anxiety have the tendency to spend too much time on a particular question, which can negatively affect the entire test.

Finals are difficult, and if students have most of their exams during finals week, it can be stressful. Just remember: You aren’t alone. Everybody has finals. So just relax, and think positive.