Advice From an Argonaut: How to Handle Stress that Comes With the F-Word


Anaiah Davis, Staff Writer

December of every school year is immensely stressful for all high school students due to one main factor: finals. Although many of you are more than ready to enter the sweet bliss of winter break, most students must take these exhaustingly long tests that determine their final grade for the semester. Due to the extreme pressure build-up and stress associated with finals, here are some tips to de-stress and prepare for the week of doom.  

Many people experience what’s called test anxiety. Text anxiety is defined as a psychological condition in which people experience distress and anxiety in testing situations. It often stems from a fear of failure, a history of poor testing outcomes, and being unprepared. Following this guide may help relieve anxiety and improve your testing abilities beyond the methods you use now. 

STUDY: The best thing you can do to ease your anxiety is to study! Some people say that studying results in them doing worse, but it can’t hurt to review the concepts you’ve learned throughout the semester. Certain teachers will also provide a study guide, so it goes without saying that you should complete, or at least look that over. There are multiple methods to studying such as utilizing flashcards, quizzing with friends, playing review games, etc. At this point in your high school career, students should have some indication of the method they learn best by, expand on that method while forming study habits. 

GET ENOUGH SLEEP: We all know how imperative sleeping is in our lives. But let’s be real, as teenagers in high school we aren’t always getting the full eight hours we need. During finals week, try to go to bed earlier, or at least at a reasonable time. Give your body the energy it needs, and you’ll feel better, more alert, and you might have an easier time understanding questions and remembering the material.  

EAT: The brain, like all other bodily organs, needs energy to function efficiently. Eating breakfast not just on finals day but every day, will help you get a jump start on your day and be prepared for whatever tasks are thrown your way. The body breaks down glucose which is utilized by the brain in multiple mental processes. Not only is thinking on an empty stomach bad for your physical health, but it also poses as a distraction when trying to focus on an important task. Besides, who wants to be the kid whose stomach growls out loud in a dead silent testing room?  

RELAX: Learning how to relax is a major key in getting ready to take a test. Most bad test takers express the blockage that enters their brain the minute a test is placed in front of them. The body becomes so overwhelmed with stress about taking the actual test that when it comes time to do so, students cannot focus on the questions and blank out.  Stressing yourself out won’t make you any more prepared. If you consider yourself a bad test taker, try developing good test taking skills beforehand so those become your tools during the test. In the case of multiple-choice exams, process of elimination extremely helps in narrowing the answer choices and nudging you in the right direction.  

Going into the final, make sure to concentrate on the task at hand, do not let your mind wander to anything except the test you are currently taking. Make sure to pace yourself on the given time frame and take deep breaths if you begin to feel overwhelmed. Perhaps the most important tip for finals is to know your finals schedule! This will help you figure out what finals are most prominent in the upcoming days and how to form an efficient schedule. Although big tests may be intimidating, they are a constancy in post-secondary and higher education. It may not feel like it now, but your college preparedness levels are most certainly increasing. Good luck to everyone!