How to stay on track in race to finals

It’s that time of year again. As many recover from the annual Thanksgiving turkey overdose and midtown Manhattan illuminates its new holiday décor display, tourists flock to the city to wander the windy streets, shop the Fifth Avenue window displays and glide along the ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza.

However, NYU students filtering through Washington Square have a different set of pre-holiday priorities: preparing for exams. Only a few weeks away, these looming finals have the power to make or break hard-earned semester GPAs, depending on how students approach them.

Breathe a little easier in the remaining days of the semester by considering these exam preparation tips.

Plan it out

This week, make a list of every final project presentation, exam, paper and deadline ahead of you in the order they are due. Plan study time accordingly. Prioritizing a to-do list in this manner can help prevent procrastination as well as curb the feelings of anxiety that follow when too many tasks pile up with too little time to complete them. To see NYU’s general final exam schedule, check out the university registrar’s official final exam schedule, so you can plan for them now.

Eat the right foods — in the right amounts

It is important not only to eat healthy foods during times of high stress but also to consider the size of meals during exam week. “Eating big meals makes people sleepy, so that’s not a good idea right before doing something that requires careful thought,” Steinhardt nutrition professor Marion Nestle said. “But you want to eat something before a long exam so you don’t get distracted by hunger in the middle of it.” Map out meals and snacks that are well balanced in protein, fat and carbohydrates to coordinate with the task at hand.

Sweat out the stress

Taking study breaks for de-stressing bouts of cardiovascular exercise can be just as important as hitting the books itself. Visit the NYU Athletics website for information about campus recreation hours of operation, group fitness class schedules and a variety of activities available to help increase the oxygen flow to your thinking muscles and eliminate stress toxins.

Avoid all-nighters

A study from Harvard Medical School reported that one of the main beneficial functions of a solid night’s rest is memory consolidation — the brain’s ability to take in new information and commit it to memory. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night to make those daily study sessions count when the actual exam arrives.

Ask for help

If solitary cramming and group study sessions are not doing the trick, do not hesitate to reach out to professors and take advantage of campus resources, such as the NYU Writing Center, to prepare for finals. Outline and draft writing assignments early, and sign up for an appointment with a consultant to receive helpful feedback and make grade-boosting adjustments without the deadline stress.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 3, print edition. Alena Hall is a contributing writer. Email her at features@nyunews.com.

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