Final Exams: 10 Ways to Survive

Sometimes it can take more than a sharp mind to survive the gauntlet of tests, reports, papers, and late nights that make up final exams.  Sometimes the week of finals can feel more like an episode of the Walking Dead than the last week of college.  But – it doesn’t have to.

  1. Spread it out

This may seem like a no brainer, but logic quickly goes out the window when you’re facing 5 exams in 4 days.  While you may be tempted to spend all of your time before each exam only studying for it – don’t.  By breaking your studying over a few days and through a number of different sessions, you’re studying will be much more effective.

  1. Take breaks

It may seem counter intuitive to spend time not studying when you only have a limited time before the test.  But studying for long periods without giving your brain a break is like trying to run a marathon without water stops.  It isn’t pretty and usually your time is much worse.  Take a short breather every 15 minutes so you can let your brain stretch.

  1. One step at a time

Since you’re breaking up your studying sessions into 15 minute blocks, only focus on the step that is right in front of you.  How do you survive the zombie apocalypse?  One day at a time.  Trying to take in everything can quickly get you bogged down and overwhelmed.  You don’t have to do it all, you just have to do this little bit next.  By directing your energy into ‘kicking butt’ for the next 15 minutes, you will be setting yourself up to ‘take names’ when the exam comes around.

  1. Brain food

While eating brains won’t help your exam grade any, giving your brain the fuel it needs to excel is critical for the mental gymnastics that finals can demand.  First, eat often.  Keeping a steady flow of calories to your brain is critical for keeping it in top shape.  Nuts, berries, avocado (guacamole!), and dark chocolate are all great choices because they are high in the healthy fats that make your brain faster, low sugar so you don’t have a sugar crash, and easy to sneak into the library.

  1. Learn.  Sleep.  Learn again.

One of the best things you can do is to make your sleep as productive as possible.  The easiest way to do that is by using sleep to break up your studying.  Over night, your brain takes the opportunity to clear out any information that it doesn’t need.  By studying something before and after a good night’s sleep, you are doubly reinforcing what you’ve learned.  This is also why it’s better to wake up an hour early to study the next morning rather than stay up an extra hour the night before.

  1. Put your muscles to use.

Although your brain will get the biggest workout during exams, make sure you don’t neglect the rest of your body.  Take those short study breaks to move around and get your blood flowing.  Not only will it help you work out that kink in your neck from reading so much, it will also kick your brain into high gear when you return to the books.  Even something as simple as walking outside to get some fresh air can give your body the break it needs to chug through another study session.

  1. Caffeine & A Nap

It may be easier to fly to the moon than make it through exam weeks without caffeine.  Whether you prefer black coffee, Diet Coke, or an electric blue Mountain Dew Voltage – caffeine can provide that extra perk that gets us through the day.  But, it takes approximately 20 minutes for the caffeine in your drink to start working its magic.  Coincidentally, that is also the ideal amount of time for a nap (another essential for surviving finals).  A small cup of coffee and a power nap can be a one-two punch for making it through another study session.  Best of all – it’s science.

  1. Stick with the routine.

I’m the kind of person who always likes to sit in the same spot in class.  After an entire semester of learning in a certain area, the final exam isn’t the time to see what the room looks like from another chair.  If you moved around every class, now isn’t the time to start ‘settling down.’  Sticking with your usual routine for a final exam gives your brain and body a familiar setting to pull on all the information you’ve learned there throughout the semester.

  1. One. Step. At. A. Time.

Once the big test is upon you, there isn’t anything left to do except to take a deep breath, trust in yourself, and forge ahead.  Whether you’ve put in weeks of work or just a few hours, try not to spend time thinking about what you can or can’t remember.  Take each question one step at a time and give it your all.  If you don’t know the answer, move on to the next question.  The following questions might trigger something that gives you the answer you were looking for before.  Just like studying, taking an exam one question at a time help you give you the extra clarity to knock it out of the park.

  1.  Celebrate!

Just turned in a massive paper?  Take some time to celebrate before you get back to the grindstone.  Just as important as working hard before a test is rewarding yourself afterwards.  Enjoying the big victories (like nailing an exam) and the small ones (making it through your flashcards without a mistake) makes studying a little less painful.  It also gives you something to work towards.  So, work hard, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  Just try not to celebrate at an empty ski lodge in the middle of nowhere.


Whether your exams are a zombie apocalypse or a real live version of the Hunger Games, approaching them with the right set of tools can make you more prepared to succeed than the best “doomsday prepper.”  

PERRLA for APA/MLA & Word 2016 for Mac: Update

It’s been a few weeks since we let everyone know that we’re working on a new version of PERRLA for APA/MLA for Macs.  Since then, we have been working on making sure that this new update will be the easiest solution for writing APA papers.  That means that we’ve spent lots of time sketching new user interfaces, mapping out how students will use it, and brainstorming the most effective ways to wrangle even the toughest APA or MLA standards.

As we mentioned in some of our previous posts, we can no longer run inside of Microsoft Word 2016 for Mac as an Add-In (running in the Microsoft toolbars).  Instead, we are creating a more robust paper writing stand alone application that will give you greater control for creating, managing, and writing APA and MLA papers.

One of the aspects of this that gets us really excited is the ability to create a custom environment for you to work with all of your References, Headings, Citations, etc.  Now that we aren’t stuck with Microsoft’s strict UI standards, we can explore some powerful new interfaces that will make PERRLA easier and more powerful.  We’re still in the early phases of this, but we are working on an adaptive interface that gives you the tools you need, right when you need them.

That may sound incredibly cryptic, but we are already working on something more concrete for our next development update.  We’re already excited about what’s coming, and we think it’s going to be the best version of PERRLA for APA/MLA yet!

New Product from PERRLA Leaked to Press

CiteRite!, the 3D-printed finger extension product from PERRLA, allows students to more easily create parenthetical citations while typing their research papers.

This may have slipped to the media a little earlier than we wanted, but we’re excited to announce our new product for helping students achieve their dreams (and avoid painful disease)!

Here’s the article published this morning in GNS:

PERRLA Goes BioTech

Che Grammara

Nashville – Responding to the rapidly growing number of PaPER sufferers, PERRLA, LLC announced today that they have developed a treatment for this troubling disease. PERRLA’s new 3D-printed finger extensions, marketed as CiteRight!, will enable students to type parentheses without straining to reach the top row of their keyboards.

PaPER, an acronym for Parenthetic Phalangeal Extender Restriction is a degenerative orthopedic condition closely related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Like CTS, PaPER is a repetitive strain injury commonly found in people who write research papers. Students are required to provide parenthetical citations of their source material and it is the constant motion of reaching for the left and right parenthesis locatedon the “9” and “0” keys of a keyboard that leads to the severe strain of the ring and middle fingers of the right hand.

PERRLA’s Director of Development, Joseph Nixon, explains how CiteRight! works: “After slipping on the finger extensions, a student need only tilt the right hand slightly forward to depress the left or right parenthesis key in one smooth, easy motion. The kids seem to love it. In fact, students tell us that with CiteRight!, they actually look forward to citing References.”

Several orthopedic surgeons contacted for this article were quick to praise CiteRight!, stating that it provided immediate relief for their PaPER patients. In addition, Dr. Ron Weasley of Our Lady of Infinite Discipline Medical Center indicated that he expects PERRLA’s finger extensions to significantly reduce the risk of future PaPER outbreaks. “In my patients, the interphalangeal joints of both the digitus medius and the digitus annularis were restored to a healthy state in short order [with CiteRight!]. I believe PERRLA has, at long last, found a cure for this debilitating malady.”

Hand Mold Required

Because the finger extensions are custom-manufactured for each purchaser, the acquisition of CiteRight! results in the delivery of a hand-molding kit.

Great care is required when mixing the company’s proprietary molding compound. Step 27 of the instructions includes an ominous warning… “Mixing the chemicals with distilled water at a temperature other than 76.3 degrees Fahrenheit may cause the compound to spontaneously burst into flames during the hand-molding process. Caution is advised.”  When contacted via email about the apparent volatility of the chemistry, PERRLA COO Cliff Batson replied, “We think it’s (most likely) not a significant problem. You shouldn’t worry too much about that. It only happened a few times during testing and, honestly, your chances of having your right hand encased in gelatinous flaming goo are slim to… well, I’d say slim-ish.”

Customers are required to pour the molding compound over their right hands while their fingers are resting comfortably on their keyboard’s Home Row keys. After 10 minutes, the hand can be carefully removed. Unfortunately, the molding compound bonds to plastic, destroying the customer’s keyboard. “Our customers tell us [the destruction of their keyboard] is a small price to pay to be rid of the incessant pain of PaPER.”, said Batson.

Once PERRLA receives a customer’s hand mold, critical measurements are taken and the finger extensions are printed with a state-of-the-art 3D printer. The scanning and printing process is expected to take 3 months “but slightly longer during football season”, according to the company’s special website for this product:

CiteRight! will soon be available online from, the Seattle-based retail giant. The product is expected to find its way into large college bookstores in time for the fall semester.

(As reported April 1, 2016)