5 Tips for Surviving Vet School Finals

By Blake O. ’26, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student

Finals week is scary. No matter what stage of education you are in, a week of high-value exams is not for the faint of heart.

In vet school, it can understandably be quite daunting with the volume of material you are learning. However, just because finals week is scary doesn’t mean students need to be afraid of it. I have found that with the right mindset and a few key perspective changes, I have learned to survive (and dare I say, even enjoy) finals week.

Here are five of the tips I follow to help me get through finals week each semester.

No.1 – Set Reasonable Goals

Vet school finals are challenging enough! There is no need to set goals that make it even harder. Before the exams start, sit down, grab a calculator, and figure out where you stand. Set your final grade goal and figure out what you need to score to make that grade. The only difference between a 100% and that minimum score is that the 100% is going to require a lot more stress and work on your part.

    No. 2 – Get Into A Routine

    Once the week starts, it’s time to get into your marathon mindset. Come up with a schedule that is sustainable and leaves room for self-care. Set a sleep schedule, mealtimes, and time to relax. Then, protect that time! No matter how stressed you are about studying, you will be better off with a balanced schedule instead of cramming.

    No. 3 – Take It One Day At A Time

    Effective goal setting requires short and long term goals. Finals week is a time to focus on the short-term. While looking ahead is great, don’t let the exam on Friday stress you out all week to the point where Monday through Thursday’s exam grades suffer. I try to dedicate as much of my study time as possible to the immediate next test, and if I feel confident, only then do I start looking ahead.

    No. 4 – Don’t Be Afraid To Switch Your Study Style

    The part about finals week that trips a lot of people up is that you have to switch mental gears much more quickly than usual. So, if you want to avoid the pitfalls of finals, be flexible! This is especially true when it comes to study techniques. Reading radiographs and performing surgery are very different skills, so why would studying for classes like Diagnostic Imaging and Principles of Surgery look the same? If you feel like you are hitting a wall, try a different approach.

    No. 5 – Remember Your Self-Care

    Yes, finals are important. They hold a lot of weight and can even make or break your success in certain classes. But, ultimately, your well-being is more important. In the long run, staying up all night, chugging coffee 24/7, and rewatching every lecture in the entire course will cause more harm than a bad grade on one test. So, don’t hesitate to take breaks when you need it, and don’t feel guilty about studying less than you feel you should.

    Finals week is scary. But it is just a week. It will happen, and then it will be over. So, don’t let stress take control of your life. Hopefully these tips help you. Happy studying!