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CALS Guide to Conquering Exam Week Stress

Students look for study spots in Talley Student Union.

‘Tis the season for late night study sessions and early morning exams. It’s the time of year that can lead to added stress for students which can be difficult to manage. CALS has created this quick guide to help you navigate through all of the “exam week scaries” and keep your personal well-being in check. 

Find the Perfect Study Spot 

If you’ve ever spent several hours studying, then you know the impact the right environment can have on your productivity. Whether you work best in our bustling student union or in the silent corners of the famous Bookstacks, NC State has a study spot for everyone. 

Students are masked up and studying in Talley at personal lounge chairs.

Did you know you can explore all of the library spaces available for student use on NC State Libraries’ website? There’s even a customizable feature that allows students to find the best indoor and outdoor locations based on your personal noise-level preferences for independent or group work. And don’t forget to reserve a room. Reservations are encouraged to get the space that’s right for you. Be sure to have your unity ID and password handy to book a room. Let’s be honest, grabbing the perfect on-campus study space will help you focus and avoid the Netflix spiral that inevitably happens in your dorm room or apartment.

Take Care of Your Physical Health 

One of the best ways to manage exam week stress is to take care of your body. You cannot expect your brain to work at maximum capacity if you are not providing your body with food, sleep and some form of movement. 

The Wellness and Recreation Center at NC State offers a wide array of programs that cater to different students’ wants and needs to encourage healthy movement. Students can register for group fitness classes to workout in a fun and community-building environment. Classes range from cardio kickboxing to hip-hopi dance and cycling. There’s truly something for everyone to work out the extra stress that comes with exam week! 

Another great WellRec resource is Outdoor Adventures. During exam week, Outdoor Adventures will sometimes schedule relaxing programs designed to get students outside and moving. From kayak trips on Lake Johnson to day trips hiking through Umstead, Outdoor Adventures will help you burn off some steam.  

Students participate in rock climbing at the newly renovated climbing wall in Carmichael Gymnasium.

In order to participate in these fun, physical activities, you have to make sure you are fueling your body. It can be easy to skip a meal for an extra hour of studying or opt for a dinner of Fountain waffle fries and Howling Cow ice cream instead of something a little more balanced and nutritious. NC State Dining offers a variety of on-campus food options that include everything from dining halls to grab-and-go meals in Talley and the Atrium. If you find yourself running low on meal swipes or dining dollars at the end of the semester, visit the Feed the Pack food pantry  to stock up on groceries at a much lower cost than conventional grocery stores.

Movement and fueling your body are so important, but so is making sure you are getting enough sleep. It can be very tempting to pull an all-nighter before an exam, but this is ultimately doing more harm than good. Schedule breaks and rest times. Don’t be afraid to put your books or study notes away for an hour or two. If staying up late is your only option, add a nap into your day to give your brain and body time to recover from the stress of the week. 

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Let’s avoid the coffee comas and crying in odd places this go-around. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. There are several resources available for students to manage stress during finals week. The Student Health Center is good for more than just a sick visit. They have qualified, trained professionals who provide counseling services to help students cope with added anxiety. 

One of the best ways you can care for your mental health during exam week is by taking time to unplug. Put your laptop down and step away from TikTok for a few minutes and go for a quick walk outside, whether it be across campus at Pullen Park or a stroll around the JC Raulston Arboretum.

The JC Raulston Arboretum gates are designed with falling leaves for guests to walk under.

Stay Connected With Others

Studying in groups is a great way to get some human interaction while also grinding out the homework. Even if you aren’t working on the same things, sharing a study room with a friend can enable you  to socialize without losing precious schoolwork hours. If you do share a class with friends, studying in a group can help you better understand material while still “hanging out.” Don’t know anyone in your huge lectures? No problem! The Navigate Student app has a feature that allows you to connect with other students interested in forming a study group. This is another way to make friends and be prepared for your finals.

students enjoying each other while drinking coffee and studying

Definitely Treat Yourself  

Exam week is no joke, so you have to celebrate all the victories — even the small ones. Studied for an hour without getting distracted? Treat yourself! Turned in that final paper on time? Treat yourself! Woke up for your exam without hitting the snooze button? Treat yourself! 

The most classic and Wolfpack way to treat yourself is by getting Howling Cow ice cream. Students can use dining dollars at Talley  or drive out to the Dairy Education Center and Creamery

Chocolate ice cream sits in an iconic Howling Cow cup waiting to be enjoyed.

Another way to treat yourself (but could double as a study space) is by grabbing coffee at one of the many nearby coffee shops. Cup of Joe is a popular spot, with two nearby locations. Another fun spot is Global Village Organic Coffee right across Hillsborough Street  from the Court of North Carolina. If you want a front row seat to view our newly renovated Belltower, visit Jubala Coffee at the corner of Hillsborough Street and Maiden Lane. All of these places are great for a little afternoon pick-me-up as well as a nice change of scenery to get some studying done.

Now, if you are looking for a way to treat yourself that doesn’t involve spending money, the university offers lots of fun events during exam week. The University Activities Board sponsors all kinds of gatherings that involve getting to know other students and hanging out with friends. Their homepage has a calendar of activities for the month, one of the most popular being UAB Movie Nights in Witherspoon. Movie screenings are free to students and a great option for treating yourself without pulling out your wallet. 

Again, remember to take care of yourself and others and don’t forget to take lots of deep breaths. You’ve got this! Now, go ace those exams!