Students give advice on minimizing stress during exams


Illustration: Quinn Christensen and Jenny Ries

With lots to do this week and next, it’s important for students to balance their studying with quality breaks and stay off technology distractions.

Students sit with earbuds in, hunched over textbooks, tension filling the air. This is the scene that awaits SPA students as the school year comes to a close and final exams approach. Every student struggles with something different and each has different tips and tricks to deal with the inevitable stress.

Junior Joey Bluhm said, “[The most stressful thing for me is] having all the things of the things I need to look at organized… It adds a whole lot more stress when it’s when I’m kind of scrambling to figure out what I can look at to help study for it.”

I usually do a subject of homework at a time, so I do like a subject of math, or biology, or whatever I have to do and then I can take a little break.”

— Sophomore Libby Cohen

This problem is a common one. Many students struggle to stay organized throughout the school year and feel the consequences during final exam season.

“I mostly just make sure when I get a test back, I keep it in a particular space in my folder and then just have those all together,” Bluhm said. This is a good way to get a feel for what you have learned throughout the year, without getting too overwhelmed.

Sophomore Libby Cohen said, “[My biggest struggle is] making sure I’m prepared for all of my exams. I feel like sometimes I know less than I do, and I need to feel more confident in myself.”

“I usually do a subject of homework at a time, so I do like a subject of math, or biology, or whatever I have to do and then I can take a little break, pacing myself, so I know to come back to my homework,” Cohen said.

According to a study done by The Draugiem Group, a social networking company, it is best for people’s brains to work for fifty-two minutes at a time, take a seventeen-minute break, and then return to work.

“Keep an eye on yourself more, and just keep an eye on your own personal needs, ’cause you don’t want to take an exam fatigued and tired, and passing out on the desk,” Bluhm said.

For 9th graders approaching their first final exam season, the key is confidence.

“You know more than you think you know, and your teachers aren’t out to get you, they build tests on what you learn. Study, but don’t over study,” Cohen said.

Bluhm said, “It’s not that big of a deal, in the long scheme of things.”

Ditch phones for successful study breaks

When finals week comes around, everyone is on an edge. Some students decide to take initiative and start studying beforehand, soon to find themselves studying the night before their exams. Others are more organized and don’t have to experience the mental stress of last minute studying. No matter how or when students study, they all end up taking study breaks.  

According to The University of Guelph, located in Guelph, Canada, study breaks are a kind of ‘effective procrastination.’”

Many students use study breaks. 9th grader Jonas Bray said, “I, personally, take many study breaks and sometimes, I think, too many.” Can study breaks be productive when it comes to the work students are doing and their brains, or are they just an excuse for students to scroll through social media for an hour?

The benefits of study breaks are significant. According to The University of Guelph, located in Guelph, Canada, study breaks are a kind of “effective procrastination.” Furthermore, they note that if a student has been working for several hours, their brain needs a mental break to help them get back on task. Usually, these breaks help your mind recharge and allow for you to finish your tasks faster. If a student doesn’t feel like doing a task after a while, they need to identify whether or not it is because they don’t want to do it, or that they think they will do a better job with it later on.

A good way to make sure you aren’t actually procrastinating is to give yourself a certain amount of time for your break and possibly stay away from your phone. Sophomore Helen Bartlett said, “A lot of teachers tell us to put our phone away, like I put mine upstairs, and I definitely get distracted by my phone and this tip really helps.”

Breaks become detrimental when students use them as ways to procrastinate. For example, students end up using their phone and becoming sucked into it for multiple reasons. Junior Annie Kristal said, “When it comes to taking study breaks every ten minutes can be very unhealthy, especially when it comes to our generation and phones, we end up having trouble to even study for an hour straight.” Many students think that they procrastinate because they are irresponsible, immature, lazy, or lack self discipline. This can be true for many, but there is a deeper meaning behind this too. There is an interesting connection between procrastination and perfection. People with higher IQ’s can be very capable and able of being perfectionists. According to Psychology Today, research shows that perfectionists actually procrastinate less than other people, not more. As students, we should be able to identify the difference and then learn and grow from that.

Overall, there are many benefits when it comes to study breaks, as long as they are monitored. As long as you are aware of why you are taking a study break, it is harmless. Give yourself a time slot, then go outside to take a walk, read a book, eat some good food, and just ditch the phone.