How to make it through finals at USC

Without losing your mind

After rolling ourselves back from a Thanksgiving break of gluttony and festivities, we roll ourselves into the most stressful time of the year. Finals.

Everyone dreads finals weeks, especially at a big school like USC, where finals consist largely of scantron tests with vague study outlines.

My opinions surrounding exams and testing of students, especially under such high pressure situations unique only to the classroom, are meet with unanimous feelings of distain felt by most students.

Yet it is the boat we are all stuck in, as we cannot overhaul the education system. So here are some tips to staying sane over finals.

Study in blocks

I like to study for a good two hours, then get up and take a walk around campus or switch study locations.

A quick 20 minute burst of exercise is proven method to keeping your brain engaged and keeping yourself sharp and sane.

Hold the caffeine


Don’t add any more caffeine to your diet than you already have, and try to keep it constant, rather than downing coffee first thing in the morning. Caffeine is a drug that should be used strategically, and it would best serve you later on in the day when you’re in a study slump, rather than drinking it all day like you were attached to an IV drip. If you wish for something warm, drink herbal tea, it will help calm your nerves as well.

Snack well

Stay away from the potato chips and candy, it will not help you study and will most likely inhibit your ability to concentrate. It also will not satisfy you, leaving you thinking about food rather than focusing on your material.

Hard boiled eggs, almonds, apples, and vegetables are great finger foods. Stay away from highly salty and sweet things, as they cause you to crave even more junk food. There is no feeling worse than finishing a giant bag of chips and hummus, and then realizing you’ve only read one page. We all love to snack and study, but the right snack can make a world of difference in terms of the material you are able to cover.

Don’t study at home


Stop lying to yourself, you are not nearly as productive at home as you would be in the library or somewhere quiet and secluded. Don’t be lazy, and use your hours wisely. Spending four hours at the library in a day will be far more successful than the day you waste mulling around in your house, attempting to study but really just rearranging your Q-tips for the third time.

Get a friend

Finding a study buddy from your class is the way to go. The ability to talk aloud about an issue and work out problems together will save both of you hours of time. It is a highly under utilized method. By the way, this does not mean a friend that has nothing to do with your course, that is called a distraction, and you will get nothing done.



Proper sleep is never to be underestimated. If you tend to get stressed right before a final, consider meditating for 5 minutes and taking deep breaths. If you cannot stay away, take this as sign, and take a 20 minute nap. Set an alarm, or 5 alarms, on your phone, prop up your feet above your head and take a cat nap. You will wake up feeling a million times better and ready for another few hours of studying. Bonus: if you drink coffee before the nap you can wake up an energizer bunny.


We are all freaking out around this time of the year, but take a few minutes each day to understand where these thoughts are coming from. Is it coming from a high work load or is it because you secretly hate your major and everything you’re studying? It is never too late to make a life change, and if you cannot stand studying for any of the classes you are taking, that is a very big sign.

You will be far more successful in a field you actually enjoy, regardless of what the “average salary” is projected to be. Following your passion and your heart is a far more lucrative decision, both holistically and financially. Do not let your peers try to dictate your path, they are just as confused as you are. Remember that you are in control of your life, and lack of action leaves you just as guilty as failing at something.

University of South Carolina