Managing Finals Stress

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way, 2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

It’s not 1L anymore, but finals are still stressful … especially if you haven’t secured your 2L summer job yet; are applying for a clerkship, or know you want to try to re-do the OCI process during 3L. To add to the stress, as a 2L there’s a higher likelihood that instead of just having straight exams, you probably have a combination of exams, final assignments/projects, and lengthy seminar papers to write. Prepping for each of these finals requires different strategies, but managing your stress throughout should be fairly uniform!

During my first years of college, I was a bundle of stress when it came to preparing for finals. But, over the years I’ve found that five things really help me to stay relatively stress-free during the most dreaded time of the year (for students that is).


Have Something to Look Forward to

It can be easy to feel like you’re drowning in finals stress when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. To avoid this phenomenon I like to plan something fun, like a trip or concert, that I can look forward to throughout the finals season. Having that event in mind makes me feel like I’m working towards something, and gives me a reason to smile and push through when I feel like finals will never end!


Healthy & Regular Meals

Your body, skin, and mind will thank you for this one! Eating healthy meals regularly throughout exam season gives your body the fuel it needs to be energized so you can push through those late night study sessions. Plus, when you’re living off of junk food and Chinese takeout your body isn’t functioning at its optimal level … meaning your study sessions are likely less efficient than they could be. I also find the simple routine of making a meal to be relaxing, especially since it generally gives me a small break between study sessions!


Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

I cannot emphasize how much time management helps ease stress during finals time, and just generally. If you’re a procrastinator like me, having a schedule ensures that you don’t leave studying until the last minute. It also lets you figure out when you have free time for laundry, grocery shopping, naps, etc. so you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed by the combination of studying and real-life responsibilities and necessities.



Take Breaks

Once you’ve figured out a study schedule, make sure you slot in some breaks as well– and I don’t just mean 10-minute intervals. Finals season for most students runs for two-plus weeks, you need to have a few days or half days off during that time to avoid the dreaded burnout. Furthermore, having those breaks added into your schedule not only helps you avoid stress naturally by allowing your body to relax and recharge, but it also gives you something to look forward to during the week.


Don’t Cut Social Ties

It can be difficult, if not impossible to find time to hang out with your family and friends in the midst of finals season, but that doesn’t mean you need to cut all social ties. When you’re stressed because you feel like you don’t understand something it can help to reach out to your study group, or a friend from class. On the opposite spectrum, however, when you’re just feeling generally overwhelmed it can be beneficial to talk to a friend or family member outside of the law school environment to help ground you.

As a 2L how have you learned to manage your finals stress? Are there any tips or tricks that work particularly well for you?!