Understand the Challenges Ahead

If you’re worried about finals, remember that it’s a totally normal feeling. Plenty of students, from the ones who ace every test to those who struggle academically, get nervous before big exams. Regardless of how you performed during the semester, the best thing you can do to improve your confidence is to go into this last part of the school year knowing what you’re up against.

Your ADHD will likely add some extra challenges when you’re preparing for finals. By acknowledging how your ADHD symptoms can make it harder to study, you’ll be better prepared to overcome those challenges. Here are some of the things to watch out for as you get ready for exams:

  • Planning and organization: You might struggle with figuring out which topics to prioritize when studying and how to manage all your materials for each class.
  • Time management: You may underestimate how much time you need to set aside for studying for each of your final exams.
  • Procrastination: Even if you know you need to start studying, you might find it hard to work up the motivation to crack those textbooks open.
  • Focus: The inattention associated with ADHD can make it harder to focus on your class materials for long periods of time.
  • Memory: You might have trouble remembering some of the things you’re studying because of the way ADHD can impact working memory.

Tips for Dealing with ADHD Symptoms During Finals

Now that you know which symptoms of ADHD are most likely to cause you trouble, you can come up with study strategies that take them into account. Keep the following study tips in mind as you get closer to taking your finals.

Avoid procrastination

Just getting started can be one of the most difficult parts of studying for finals. To make the task less daunting, divide your study tasks into manageable chunks. In addition, create a dedicated study area that’s free of unnecessary distractions and has all the materials and supplies you need. These steps allow you to jump right in and get some studying done whenever you have some free time. Even if it’s a short session, it’s better than avoiding it entirely because you’re too overwhelmed to get started.

Keep things fresh

Use a variety of different study techniques to keep your mind stimulated. This can be a good way to maintain attention when you have to study topics that aren’t of the most interest to you. Some different techniques you can try include making flashcards, mindmapping (drawing a map that connects various concepts), and spaced repetition (spacing out study sessions instead of cramming at the last minute, and increasing the length of time between reviewing information).

Add background noise

Total silence could be distracting to someone with ADHD when they’re trying to study. As you prepare for finals, consider playing white noise, pink noise, or brown noise in the background when you hit the books. The soft sound can help to minimize distracting thoughts and help to improve your concentration. There are a number of devices and apps which can produce various noise “colors” so you can find the one that works best for your study needs.

Move your body

Exercise has so many more benefits than just improving physical health. It also helps to improve alertness, attention, and motivation, and it can boost verbal memory, thinking, and learning. If you’re just sitting still for hours studying, you might feel like it’s not that effective. Try getting up and moving around while you study, or taking breaks in your study sessions to go for a walk, shoot some hoops, or dance to upbeat music. These small changes can help make your studying efforts more impactful.

Get enough sleep

Your sleep routine is especially important as finals approach. Try to avoid the temptation to cram in late-night study sessions that deprive you of some much-needed shuteye. Getting enough sleep is critical for retaining information. When you get enough rest, your short-term memory will be more effective. Plus, short-term memories transition to long-term memories as you sleep, which helps you access that information on the day of the exam.

Asking for Help

Even if you’ve been studying your hardest, you might still feel like you’re not fully prepared for finals. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Getting a tutor is a great way to boost your study sessions with a little extra guidance, especially if you tend to have trouble staying on track or knowing which areas to focus on. 

You can also reach out to your teachers or professors if you feel like you need additional accommodations for your exams. They might be willing to let you take a test in a private room with fewer distractions or give you some extra time to complete an exam. Or maybe they’ll allow you to use a fidget spinner or noise-canceling headphones during finals to improve your concentration.

Additionally, your healthcare provider may be able to offer other means of assistance. Maybe you need to try a different ADHD medication that manages your symptoms more effectively, or they could direct you to other ADHD resources or therapies that help with your studies. Taking these steps could help to improve your academic performance so you can end the semester on a high note.