The Ultimate College Finals Week Survival Kit

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Find the College Right for You! »

Making sure you have the right tools and resources to ensure your finals week goes as smoothly as possible. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a plan and the proper tools. Make sure it’s successful, not stressful. 

Study tools:

While it may seem like Post It notes, flashcards, and highlighters are another way to get students to spend money, they are actually instrumental in information retention and can help you study smarter. 

Flashcards: This age-old study trick actually has some serious science to back its efficacy. This study method increases information retention through a process called active recall. You know how it works- write a question or concept on one side and the answer on the other. As you move through the deck, you’re required to recall the corresponding information for the concept. Doing so repeatedly creates stronger neural connections in the brain. The advent of technology is a beautiful thing, but consider doing flashcards the old fashioned, handwritten way. Studies demonstrate a real link between handwriting notes and information retention. Another great thing about flashcards is that you can use them with friends! Find a study buddy to do flashcard rounds with, and you both reap the benefits. 

Highlighters: The human brain loves beautiful things. Especially color! Highlighting your notes or textbooks is a great way to supplement note-taking and studying. Highlighting important information increases your brain’s ability to truly learn and recall it later. Using highlighters properly is essential to their effectiveness. Although all of the text you’re reading may be important, highlighting it all is not useful. Rather than using your textbook as a coloring book, use your highlighter wisely. Here’s how you can do that: 

  • Read before you color: Before you even pull out the highlighter, read the text entirely. Once you understand the full scope of the text, you can go back and highlight intentionally. 
  •  Have a color-coded system: You will be highlighting different things for different reasons. A color-coded system can help you keep track of what’s important and why. Writing notes in the margins of your book can help you contextualize the information so you can understand it further. 
  • Don’t rely solely on the highlighter: Remember, highlighters are meant to support your studying. They are not meant to substitute your own note-taking or thoughtful reflection. 

Post It Notes: Post It notes are yet another effective visual tool that you can use in so many ways. Whether it’s bookmarking different examples of a literary movement, brainstorming steps for a marketing plan, or even just keeping track of assignments, Post It notes can help you stay focused and prepared. Just make sure you write enough information so you can remember what they mean later on! 


The Ultimate College Finals Week Survival Kit - Electronics

As obvious as this sounds, you’ll need the proper technology in your toolbox. Make sure you have access to a functioning computer, printer, and a fully charged phone. If your finals week consists of research papers, make sure your work is backed up on a hard drive or in the cloud. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to blame late or missing work on technology mishaps. Also, make sure you plan your printing needs ahead of time. Printers can tell when you’re late for class and will choose that exact moment to fail. 😉 

Aside from the technological tools, you’ll need to complete assignments, make sure you have some tech for your leisure. Playlists, podcasts, relaxation apps, and more will help you stay balanced during this stressful time. 


Finals week is a stressful time! With so many assignments and projects due, you’ll be operating on less sleep and more stress, which can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Make sure you offer some extra support for your mind and body. Make sure your mini-fridge is stocked with plenty of water and healthy snacks to keep you energized. You might be tempted to go for the second or third iced coffee and whatever snack you can find in a vending machine, but your brain needs healthy, whole foods and lots of water to function best. 

Make sure you have the time and resources to take care of your mental health as well. Whether it’s journaling, doing a yoga class, or just spending quality time with friends, find something that relaxes you. See what your university offers in the way of sponsored events. Institutions will sometimes organize fun and relaxing events! Go to the petting zoo on the quad or even take advantage of on-campus counseling services. You are not alone in your academic and personal journey, so lean on the support systems available to you. 

Less stress, more success: Finals week is challenging, but with the right tools and plan you can finish off the semester strong. Make sure to prepare well before finals week so you have plenty of time. Check back with Colleges of Distinction for more helpful articles!