There are certain things that occur at the end of every semester that mark both the beginning of finals and the end of the freedoms that most of us take for granted. For many, not a semester has gone by without professors loading their students with endless, last-minute assignments. Maybe ome of these things are typed into the syllabus at the beginning of the semester with invisible ink? The next sign of the end comes when every seat in the library is not only taken, but has become a bed for those with subjects so interesting it is hard to contain their narcolepsy. Nothing in the library is as annoying as that person who takes a whole table built for six all to himself. Other signs include, but are not limited to, hammocks I’ll never sit on and puppies I’ll never get a chance to pet. Not to mention the massage chairs and masseuses. Then there are the friends back home who begin asking when we’ll be back home.
So as all these finals week shenanigans start clogging your brains, fear not for we have a little finals survival guide:
Know when each final is and whether it is cumulative or not. This will make all the difference in how you decide to organize your study time and which subjects to prioritize and emphasize your time on.
Stay organized and compile your notes and quizzes. You can refresh your memory about some of the things that were discussed in class but not in the book. Also quizzes often reflect the professor’s style of questions asked on tests. If you are missing some notes, ask friends in the class if you can take a picture of theirs. By now you should have a feel for what a professor’s test questions are like, so hopefully you paid attention to that during the semester.
Set a study schedule and stay busy. This is much easier said than done. Sometimes it is hard to make a concrete schedule when last-minute things come up and some materials take you longer to review than expected. However, setting benchmarks for things you would like to review by a certain time can motivate you to catch up if you seem to be falling behind schedule. It also allows you to prioritize and remember everything you have to do whether those things are study related or not. If you keep up with everything and keep busy, it is easier to stay on track.
Select a conducive study atmosphere. The Richter Library may not be the ideal place to study. It is always crowded, the first floor is too loud and the second floor is too quiet. The Law Library is even worse; if your foot so much as makes a scuff sound on the floor as you walk, people look at you like you just stood on top of a table and started screaming in German. Try sitting outside and studying in a quiet area while wearing headphones. That type of atmosphere might sound completely unappealing to many, but it works for others. Sebastian’s café at the Newman Alumni Center is a great area to study if you are looking for a place to eat and study. The Alumni Center has many quiet areas inside to sit down and study in. The Student Activities Center offers a great study environment if you are lucky enough to find a spot there during finals. Starbucks works for some of those that enjoy hearing people bark Frappuccino. If you can score a comfortable chair there, and that’s what sets you off, you’re all set. If an off-campus location such as your house or apartment works best, that is great too.
Surround yourself with people who won’t distract you. We all have those friends who say they want to study but end up talking to you the whole time. Stay away from them. Study with friends who actually sit down and open up a book. Though it is really tempting to study with that hot girl from class, sometimes you end up not getting any studying done at all.
Limit the temptation of going out. Unless of course you are able to get most of your studying done at LIV. Friday will come again next week, so if you cant make it out one night, you’ll make up for it another night.
Relieve stress in positive and healthy ways, stay calm and take things as they come. Working out, going for a swim or eating healthy foods helps reduce stress. Try sleeping a minimum of 6 hours every night – 8 is optimal. Don’t think about everything you have to do as a whole either; take things as they come and do what you have to do in order to get everything done. Know your limits and try your hardest, that’s all you can do. As mentioned before, there are things like hammocks to lay on, puppies to pet and massage chairs to help you relieve some stress if you can take the time to wait your turn.
Ask for help. Go to your professor’s office hours and ask any questions that come up when studying. You can ask them about the format of the exam and what topics to focus on most. This not only makes you look like you care, it helps with the stress of not knowing what to expect. Ask friends and relatives for advice when you are stressed. Sometimes it helps to vent a bit about everything you have going on, even if sometimes they seem like they really don’t care and have their own problems. If that is the case, it might serve you well to pay a visit to the Counseling Center on campus.
Remember your rented textbooks? Make sure there is not one drop of water on any page when you return them; you’ll end up having to pay an arm and a leg for water damaged books that they cannot accept. If the bookstore cannot take some of your books back, try selling them on Ebay or Amazon. It is also best to know which books you rented and which ones you bought and to know the due date of rented books.
All of these tips are things that can help students of any major. Some of the tips mentioned above are really helpful in getting you through the stress of finals. What may work for some does not always work for others.
And if all else fails, may the curve be ever in your favor.
words_michael valentino. photo_rori kotch