December is an exciting time of year, from baking cookies and caroling to picking out gifts for your loved ones, but for some  the season is neither holly nor jolly.

For college students, it’s time to prepare for final exams.

According to the American College Health Association, 34 percent of students say that stress negatively impacts their academic performance. Stress does three things to students: decreases their sleep quality, makes them angrier and worsens their grades, according to the Mayo Clinic.

To assist you in your best final prep experience, here are a few tips on how to optimize your time.

Prioritize and plan: 

Be sure to pay close attention to when each exam is taking place. If you use a planner, write it down. Giving yourself enough time to prepare for each final is crucial.

Ask for help: 

There are plenty of resources on campus if you need help. Utilize your professor’s office hours or go to tutoring. These options are here for a reason.

Talk to a counselor: 

If you’re feeling panicked or overwhelmed, talk to someone. The Carruth Center is open Monday through Friday and has drop-in hours for students from 8:15 a.m to 3 p.m.

Select a good study place:

Choose a place to study where you know you will be the most productive. Whether that be a coffee shop, the library or at your desk at home, pick what’s best for you.

Eat healthy foods and stay hydrated: 

Students tend to eat more unhealthy than usual during finals week because they are sitting somewhere with their face buried in a book. Too much sugar can lead you to crashing. Staying hydrated is also important. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and headaches.


As much as you think it will be beneficial, pulling an all-nighter probably isn’t the best idea. Getting enough sleep assists in studying and retention of information. Be sure to try and get enough rest the night before your final exam.

Take breaks: 

Reward yourself for studying. Set a time limit and once it’s up, take a break. Watch an episode of your favorite show, go to the rec, or take a power nap. Giving your brain that break will help you focus better once you start studying again.

Be positive: 

Positive self-talk can be very beneficial. Stay positive and have confidence in yourself. If you say you’re going to do poorly, then chances are, you probably will. Believe in yourself and go in with the mindset that you’re ready.