Finals can be a terrifying experience. All of your work for the last few months climaxes into one ridiculously condensed barrage of hour-long exams and epic papers. Students fall into depressions or life-threatening illnesses from the intense stress levels. People freak out on subjects they would typically be very comfortable with. To compensate, students put themselves through all-night cramming sessions, feeding their marathon studies with the worst comfort foods imaginable.

But you don’t have to fall into this madness. There is a sane way to get ready for finals and do very well in them. To help prepare for your finals, we’ve provided these five tips:

1. Don’t cram.

For many students, finals are synonymous with cramming, right? You stay up late the night before, jamming as much information into your brain last-minute in hopes that the next day all of that information will be ready to come pouring back out. It turns out, this isn’t how your brain works. In fact, students who cram tend to do worse than those who don’t.

Instead of wasting your time and sanity on cramming, opt for a more balanced, disciplined approach, like…

2. Keep up with classwork.

We’re only being partway fecetious with this one. Think about it: finals are designed to be a culmination of everything you’ve learned during the term or semester. Add to that the fact that your brain isn’t designed to squeeze in weeks worth of information in a few hours and you really have no other option. The only way to have that information in your head in such a way that you can recall it properly during an exam is to keep up with the classwork throughout the term. There’s no substitute for this.

3. Eat right.

Finals week isn’t the end of the world. So you don’t need to be bingeing on every unhealthy substance you can get your hands on. On the contrary, your brain will work a lot better if you keep your bloodstream clean with some nice fruits and veggies or light soups.

Some foods to avoid include: high sodium foods, alcohol, drugs, fried foods, and heavy sweets. Because of your high stress levels, you’ll be tempted to eat comfort foods, but, for your own sake, you must abstain if you want your brain to work when you need it to.

4. Get plenty of sleep.

Your brain needs sleep to properly store memories, including memories of the information you’ve studied. This means that finals week is no time pull all-nighters. Starting two or three nights before finals begin, go to sleep by nine o’clock no matter what.

5. Review your midterms.

Finally, most of the time, for any given instructor, your final exams will be very similar to midterms. Going back to review those midterms is a good way to prepare yourself mentally for finals. It takes out any mystery of what will be on the test and lets you focus your preparation.

So how do you get ready for finals? Tell us in the comments section below!

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