10 Tips to Surviving Hell Week

Written by Victoria Barry

The week before finals, otherwise known as “Hell Week” is finally upon us. As you’re scrambling to finish papers, projects, and exams, don’t give in to desperate panic! Use these practical tips to help you navigate this stressful time—and emerge with great grades and your health and sanity intact!

1. Eat! Your brain requires energy in order to operate. Make sure to eat healthy snacks, because as tempting as that pop tart is at 2 am, that is not the food that can adequately fuel your body and brain. Simone Lunt, ‘15, offers some “brain food” snack suggestions: carrot sticks with hummus, almonds, and dark chocolate.

2. Avoid coffee. As foreign as this may sound to college students, caffeine is not the answer. Drink lots of water instead, and since you won’t be wired from all that caffeine, you will be able to…

3. Sleep. In the words of Hannah Wolff, ‘16, “Do not make it a competition of who can sleep the least.” Along with not eating properly, losing sleep is one of the worst mistakes you can make in preparing for finals. Your brain needs a break to process all those wonderful concepts you’ve been learning.

4. Make lists and study schedules. Write down everything you need to accomplish and prioritize what is most important. Then block out appropriate study time for these particular tasks. It is much less overwhelming to sit down for two hours of work on a history study guide than to sit down and tell yourself you need to prepare for four exams and write two papers all at once.

5. Be intentional with your time. After blocking out specific study times, reserve space for study breaks, meals, showers, exercise, and friends. As Catriona Kerwin, ‘16, reminds us, we must “take time to live and enjoy the little breaks” during this hectic week. This schedule is meant to aid your productivity and time management, so when you are having a study session, make sure you are actually devoting that time to your studies.

6. Participate in group study sessions. It is often very helpful to study with fellow classmates. Take some time to study the material on your own and then get together with some classmates to review. Socializing and studying, all in one!

7. Start early. It’s never too early to start preparing. Yes, college life is busy, but the earlier you start prepping for finals, the less you will have to cram, panic, and stress later.

8. Find your perfect study spot. The environment in which you study can help or hinder your productivity. Find a place on campus where you are comfortable and can focus well.

9. Celebrate your victories. It’s okay to take a breather and reward yourself for your hard work. Go grab some ice cream with a friend or take a walk around campus and acknowledge that you are making progress.

10. Relax! This week can be very fruitful, and even fun, if you are prepared to manage it properly. Sure, moments of stress are inevitable, but if you take a deep breath and meet the challenges one at a time, it’s not as difficult as it first appears.


Victoria Barry is a junior majoring in English with a minor in Classical Education. She participates in Hillsdale’s Catholic Society, volunteers at Mary Randall Preschool, and is the vice-president of the A.A. Milne Society.