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!

    It Takes A Village

    It’s finals time again at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), and as everyone knows, behind every good veterinary student is an entire village of people ensuring we keep a shred of our sanity.

    For those of you who have not experienced this firsthand, veterinary school finals are not like undergraduate finals, which are more similar to a regular test and you are likely given a review and/or time without regular class to study.

    Instead, our finals are a culmination of everything we have learned in each class, plus anything we have learned since beginning veterinary school, if the professor chooses. Our finals also begin while regular classes are still meeting and end with a week consisting of an exam every day beginning at 8 a.m.

    Needless to say, it’s a bit of a rough time

    However, it is also an encouraging time because you find out just how many people are on your side.

    In just this week alone I have witnessed everyone at school come together to support the students. Professors have been answering questions over email late into the night, librarians have set out snacks in the study rooms, and the café has always been stocked with sources of caffeine.

    Even the very students who are going through finals themselves have made a point to reach out to one another with a joke, kind words, or simply just reassuring each other.

    I should also mention just how appreciated our relationships with those outside of school are, as well, during this time. The breaks from constant revision, reminders that there are non-school things to enjoy, and help in simple life chores that allow us more time to study are invaluable.

    Finals are most definitely a rough time, but I know my classmates and I will make it through and be one step closer to fulfilling our dreams of becoming veterinarians because of the help from our people.As for my own personal village, thank you for reminding me to eat, sleep, and take the time to enjoy things this week—I couldn’t do it without you!

    Looking into the Future

    So, the good news is the semester is finally almost over! However, that also means I must make it through finals first.

    The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy and filled with tons of information, but it’s all important to know for my future.

    As I plan to attend veterinary school, I’m beginning to take more rigorous courses geared toward my specific career path, so my classes are getting more interesting than the typical core curriculum classes. I’m majoring in biomedical sciences, which helps to get a lot of the veterinary school prerequisites out of the way, but my schedule is always busy.

    After this semester, I will have completed my first semester of my second year here at Texas A&M, and man, it’s been an experience. I’ve heard people say college is the best time of your life, and so far, it’s been really fun but full of busy schedules and lots of classes to study for.

    With that said, it can get really busy when finals time comes around, since there’s so much to study. I enjoy the classes I’m taking, but as I’m sure a lot of people have heard, finals can be stressful for many people.

    Although there’s so much to do at this time of the semester, it’s definitely doable if you don’t procrastinate. With there being several finals to study for, it helps to start studying early, rather than pulling all-nighters the night before the exams. I’ve tried studying both ways and quickly found out that I should start studying early so that I can actually understand the material for the test rather than cram the night before and remember only about half of it.

    This can be one of the busiest times of the semester, but finding your groove ahead of time helps decrease the stress of studying. Just relax, take one day at a time, and everything will be OK.

    Finding the Joy

    Michelle M.Vet school is a dream come true for all of the students currently enrolled in Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine!

    Despite this, it can be easy to become bogged down in exams, personal struggles, and commitments, at times, especially at the end of the semester as finals approach. This is why since starting school, many of us have taken to heart a concept explained to us during our first-year orientation.

    “Find the Joy” is a mantra that has been repeated more times than I can count. Whenever my class has been overwhelmed with a particularly challenging exam or week, someone has always reminded us to find the joy; it is a reminder to look at the little things in life that make you happy to bring you back to perspective that your struggles will pass and are not as insurmountable as you currently think they are. And that no matter what, there is joy in your life, if only you seek to find it.

    Each semester, right before finals week, the Texas A&M chapter of the Student American Veterinary Association (SAVMA) hosts something called “Find the Joy” week. It is a series of events spanning over the course of a week specifically for the vet students. All of these events are free or discounted for the students as a way for them to relax and take a little bit of time being active, creative, or just away from their books.

    I am currently the secretary of SAVMA and we just finished planning the events for this year’s “Find the Joy” week. The events this year range from a class at You Paint It, yoga, bingo, an escape room, ice skating, and more. I’m organizing the You Paint It class and am looking forward to relaxing with my classmates and showing just how horrible my artistic skills are. But it is in the name of “Find the Joy” and a good cause.