How to overcome finals barriers


The stress of finals can impede students’ success during finals week. But the mental roadblocks that result from this stressful time can be overcome, according to BYU resources. Students can change their mindsets, manage their time and relieve their stress to overcome mental blocks and make finals easier.

Redefining expectations

BYU peer mentor Rachel Uryan said one of the most common obstacles to doing well on finals is unrealistic expectations.

“Personally, I’m driven to do well and to perform well. My greatest fear is to not meet those expectations,” Uryan said. “Sometimes we are our own worst critics.”

Peer mentor Rachel Uryan teaches students how to manage their time for finals week. (Jenna Crowther)

BYU psychology and neuroscience professor Mikle South said adjusting perspectives on finals can be a way to overcome the negative feelings that can affect students’ performance on finals.

“Students have high expectations,” South said. “It’s all or nothing: you have to do well or you fail at life.”

South said people “put too much emphasis” on finals.

“Finals are important, but they’re not the world,” he said. “Students need to see the big picture. We tend to obsess over the details. Finals are one small part of your whole life.”

Managing time

Students can easily procrastinate the hours that studying and testing for finals require. BYU peer mentor Amelia Flejente said time management is crucial to staying on top of a finals load.

“You’ve got to plan out your time,” she said. “Know when you are going to take your finals, and plan out a schedule for them. That’s what I do. If you plan, you won’t forget.”

The stress of finals is more than just the tests themselves. Students can spend hours studying material learned weeks or months before. Uryan said putting in the time required to study can lead to success.

“We teach that success equals consistent, focused effort. You can do really well if you’re willing to apply the time that it needs,” Uryan said.

Reading days provide a solid block of time for studying. Studying hard during these two days can prove to be very helpful, according to Flejente.

“Realize that finals are just like regular tests. If you study, you’ll do well,” Flejente said. “You have a couple days with no classes, so you have more time to do the things you need to do.”

Releasing stress

Releasing stress is another way to perform well on finals. According to South, a certain amount of stress can increase performance, but once stress goes over a certain point, it has a negative impact.

South said that means it is important to take a break when the stress becomes too much to handle.

“Take time to relax. If you think of a pitcher, after he’s thrown a hard pitch, he’ll step down, walk around, wipe his hands off before stepping back up on the mound,” South said. “Take time out to reset before you go back and try again.”

Some students binge watch Netflix or go out to eat as a stress reliever. Other BYU students have their own approaches to resetting their psyches.

Sophomore Sascha Vogel gives his mind a rest by playing video games and sports. Freshman Megan Kay takes a nap or satisfies her Sodalicious cravings for a break from studying.

Junior Sarah Melnyk takes time to sit outside and read to relieve her stress during finals.

“I go and watch the ducks at the duck pond sometimes,” Melnyk said. “The ducks help a lot.”

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