One thing I’ve always been proud of is my ability to be on top of my work at any given moment and not be overwhelmed. However, I have come to accept the fact that no one is immune to the fever that comes with Finals Season. Yes, dear readers, it is time. Maybe you could have denied it in early November, or even right until Thanksgiving, but now it’s undeniable: finals are looming upon us.
Now, I’m not unfamiliar with exam season. Ever since freshman year of high school, AP and IB exams tormented me at the end of every year, yet somehow I managed to pass every one of those exams. However, it’s the novelty of college that gets to me. Even though I’ve been taking midterms all semester and I know the upcoming exams won’t be that different, there’s just something about the term “college finals” that sounds ominous. Thus, I am feeling the pressure.
So how can you deal with finals week?
When it comes to studying strategies, I’d say it’s different for everyone. For one of my exams, I decided to study by finally catching up on the reading I should’ve been doing all semester. This was planned procrastination, though! I haven’t been doing the readings because I know I wouldn’t absorb the information unless I was reading it as information that I would need very soon as essay exam material, so having to do the readings isn’t the problem. The problem is that I didn’t start doing all this catch up until today. Now, if I had started on Thursday, I’d be fine, but since I started on a Sunday, 2 days before the exam, I pretty much have to stay holed up in my room until I finish reading these articles. So my advice? No matter what your study strategies are, make sure you have enough time to actually do them!
No matter how much studying you have to do though, you have to let yourself rest and take breaks or else your brain will turn to mush and you won’t be able to absorb anything you study. Taking breaks can be done in a variety of ways. You can try
1. Participating in one of the activities hosted by various groups around school (I know I’m definitely going to pet those puppies on Thursday even though my hard exam will be over by then!)
2. Chatting with some friends
3. Online shopping
4. Going to a meal
5. Looking on the course catalog for a 5th class for next semester
6. Catching up on your late blog posts (oops!)
Just make sure that your break is just that–a break–and that after a reasonable amount of time (say, half an hour to an hour maybe), you will get back to work and be productive.
Finding a place to study can be a huge factor in determining how well you study. This semester I discovered that my dorm isn’t the best place to study because every time I study in bed, I fall asleep and because the joyous sound of my sponsor group’s voices outside of my door makes me want to join them and chat. Luckily, I realized that the cognitive psychology lab I work in is the perfect place to get me to focus. The testing room is tucked in the corner of the lab, so not a lot of outside noise gets in. Also, there’s pretty much nothing in the room except for a computer and a couple of chairs, so I don’t have much to distract me (I just have to make sure I don’t use the internet to wander over to Facebook). Not everyone is lucky enough to have such an isolated room to study in, so I suggest the 4th floor of the Honnold wing of the library. I’ve never been there, but according to the signs in the library, it’s a really quiet place that’s good to study in!
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself! Studying will be of no benefit if you walk in to the exam room starving or sleep deprived, because you won’t be able to recall anything or focus! If you’re studying and it’s getting late and you realize that you’re not picking up anything you’re reading, do yourself a favor and go to sleep. You will have read less, but you’ll recall more of that information than you would have recalled if you had stayed up later and studied while half-asleep. So do yourself a favor, and get some sleep ad eat some food!
So far, that’s my game plan to succeed at my finals. Now if you excuse me, I must go and finish catching up on a whole semester’s worth of reading in less than 31 hours.