Avoiding the End-of-Semester Slump

Come early December, Winter Break looms ever closer—while coursework and exams begin to quickly pile up! It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed and lose focus, so here’s four key ways you can avoid the end-of-semester slump:

1. Know your responsibilities

In times of high stress (like the end of the semester), few things are more dangerous than simply not understanding your obligations. When you’re plagued by a vague feeling of “having too much to do,” a subtle sense of frenzy can seep into your work. This is counterproductive because it corrodes your confidence—causing even more worry—and can lead to a destructive downward spiral.

You can prevent this scenario by determining what’s required as the semester draws to a close. This entails a great deal of proactive behavior since assignments are sometimes unclear, and exam dates and test structures aren’t always well communicated. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors and/or fellow students to verify what will be expected of you!

2. Plan ahead

Knowing exactly what you must accomplish—and when—will help you plan ahead effectively. When work appears less like a monolithic behemoth and more like a series of approachable tasks, you’ll be more likely to take that crucial first step. Breaking assignments into smaller pieces and organizing deadlines is critical. Plan exactly when you’ll complete which assignments and spread that work over a feasibly wide range of time. This will, again, help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

3. Finish assignments early

The assignments that cause the most stress are often surprisingly easy, and the anxiety they cause when left untouched throughout the semester is simply disproportionate to how much work they truly require to complete. If you avoid putting off coursework, you’ll have a large advantage come finals.

As other students are writing their final papers, you’ll be preparing for exams with far less to worry about and more course content already mastered. Ideally, you should identify the assignments that you can complete in the first two months of the semester, ask the necessary questions, and prepare a near-finished version of each assignment to review closer to the deadline.

4. Take meaningful breaks

Breaks are crucial, especially near the end of the semester. Students who expect to produce top-notch work while under high stress should assess whether or not they’re being realistic with their goals. Even if you feel that no amount of study could prepare you adequately, taking breaks is pivotal to keeping your mind fresh for tests. Sometimes, rest is better than any kind of prep or review, as it can help keep your memory sharp while also reducing stress.


This article was written by Caleb Zimmerman

Caleb Zimmerman is a professional writing and test-prep tutor for Varsity Tutors. He graduated from The King's College in New York City in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in politics, philosophy, and economics.

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