The Stress of Finals Week


Evyn Good, Reporter

It is almost everyone’s favorite time of the year: Finals week. The time of studying, cramming in any possible information that is available on a certain subject and, of course, stress. This stress always pertains to someone’s ability to not only do well on a test but to do almost perfectly on these tests to keep their grades where they want them. 

By having a final for each class, it creates a scenario for students that promotes multitasking and late nights rather than actually learning or studying the material. When these finals occur after the break, it creates the reality for students to spend their supposed break on studying for school and multitasking, studying for 6 finals at once. This stresses out students 

and fosters bad studying habits and stress that will be taken well beyond the walls of high school.

Studies from the University of Denver indicate that multitasking is just shifting attention from one task to another at a rapid rate. Each time this shift of a person’s focus occurs, the person is four times more likely to make a mistake while working. This number only increases for each time a person loses their focus and shifts it to another task. With such detrimental effects of multitasking, making students focus on 7 different tasks creates a problem waiting to happen, as the student doesn’t really study or remember the information that they are supposed to. This inevitably leads to stressed out students who won’t perform up to their expectation or ability. 

This extra stress has large and long lasting effects on students’ brains and body. According to the National Library of Medicine, stress causes the increase of anxiety, affects the moods and worsens the decision making of a person who is under stress. These immediate impacts make studying and comprehending materials for finals a near impossible task. If a student feels anxious or can’t control their emotions, how are they supposed to be able to study and focus on a task that brings them more stress? 

Not only does this stress have a short term impact on a person, but has a lasting effect on a person’s brain and body. According to Mayo Clinic, people who are under a lot of stress for an extended amount of time experience an increased likelihood of heart disease, heart attack, sleep problems, weight gain and memory loss. With such lasting effects of stress on the body leading to large problems, why does school encourage students to push through the stress and embrace it? Getting an A on a test should not matter more than a person’s happiness or long term health. But it does. Getting good grades in school holds more value in school and in life and creates a precedent for students that their worth, image and who they are can be summed up in a single letter. 

The increased importance of grades has students prioritize studying and school over mental well being and sleep. According to Penn State university, Coffee sales increase by 50% during finals week and sleep roughly 6 hours a night during and leading up to finals week. Students need 8 hours of sleep a night in order to maintain brain function and alertness throughout the day. With students getting 2 hours under that threshold, it inhibits their ability to not only perform well, but to remain happy throughout the day. However students will refuse to prioritize their mental well being over school unless the importance of one letter grade and the weight of finals week is lessened.

The need for students to have the time and opportunity to take a break and relax outside of school is becoming more and more needed, while times to take these breaks are becoming increasingly limited. With students doing clubs at lunch, extracurricular activities after school and on weekends, it leaves students to study wherever they have time. This stops students from having any time to themselves to truly relax. For extracurricular activities alone, students will spend an hour and a half each day doing their activity while over break. Students will then likely spend 3 hours a day studying and doing homework over their “winter break”. With the lack of break, students end up facing burnout and never get to recover from it. This never allows students to take a step back and recover and enjoy the holiday season. They instead face an upward battle of studying and being on the grind of school during this holiday season. 

Despite all of the stressors that students face during finals week, students need to find some time to make for themselves. According to Cornell, students need to take purposeful breaks after an hour of productive study time. This break can be as short as 5 to 10 minutes, but will allow for students to mentally recover and get the best out of the study time that they have. However, students also need more than 20 minutes every 2 hours. Students over the coming winter break need to take a day to themselves where they spend it doing whatever they want. Taking time off and doing what really makes a student happy, does a world of difference for the students mental health and happiness. So remember during this holiday season, take time for yourself and enjoy the break while it lasts, as it always goes quicker than you think.