December 8, 2012 by David
I was recently confronted with the startling fact that Finals Week is just around the corner. It was not just a nightmare or a figment of my imagination; it is real. And it is coming. So after the paramedics revived me from my heart attack, I quickly began to get a plan of action together, figuring out exactly how I would survive this most horrid week of all horrid weeks. This being my fifth Finals Week I feel as though I have gained some valuable experience and insight which I will now share with you. Following these rules may do more than just keep you alive: it might help you get an A.
RULE #10: Reserve Study Rooms, and Reserve Them Early
Study rooms are an essential part of good studying. “But David I can study just fine in my room!” you might say. Don’t fool yourself. If you are sitting in your room, look around you: bed, bathroom, closet, books, toys, shoes, dust, tv, Nintendo, and the kitchen is just within reach. Your room is the studying equivalent of a Six Flags. And the last thing you need during finals week is to get distracted by 13 hours of Call of Duty or a Teen Mom marathon. You need to find a room on campus where you can focus and study without those interruptions. That being the case, reserve rooms NOW. About 75% of them are already booked so go to your respective college or the library and put yourself on the list. Utilize all those fees you’re paying.
RULE #9: Make a Schedule
The first thing I did after my Finals Week realization panic attack was create a study schedule. But there is, in fact, a right and a wrong way to do this. Most people look to when their finals are and say “Oh, I have 7 days until my test. I only need to study for 2, so I can wait until later.” False. You have 7 days until your test, and so you need 7 days until your test. Rather than work backwards like that, look at your classes and figure out how long you need to study for each test. Then work those hours into your schedule so that you can be more prepared and less stressed heading into that final.
RULE #8: Friends Who Study Together, Stay Together
Studying alone is the equivalent of trying to climb Mt. Everest alone. In a swimsuit. Without shoes. And Mt. Everest is 8 trillion feet high. You think I’m exaggerating? Maybe. But take my advice: you are much better off collaborating with others when studying for Finals. So long as you remain focused and organized, you’ll learn twice as much as you would alone. Your friends keep you honest and structured, and you will never have to suffer alone. Also, they can go get you food when you don’t want to get up.
RULE #7: Do NOT Pull All-Nighters
I may have just said something really controversial, and I’m willing to deal with that. All-nighters might be your preferred and tried-and-proven method of studying. “I remember much better when I study it all at once,” says Joe from Studyville, USA. Well Joe you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re wrong. What Sir Fails-a-lot here fails to realize is that all-nighters are a result of poor planning. No one in their right mind, when given the choice, would prefer to stay up all night before a Final exam instead of sleep in a nice, comfortable bed. If you argue with that, then you’re clearly not in your right mind. If you stay organized and focused and plan ahead throughout Finals Week and the days before, you should have no need to stay up all night studying. So be smart. Sleep.
RULE #6: Hydrate
Plain and simple: schedule water breaks. It’s easy to get dehydrated when you just sit in a windowless room for hours upon end, only being concerned with typing the next page or reading the end of this chapter. Dehydration can ruin your day and put you in bed or in a hospital. That’s no bueno and the test-taking Gods don’t smile kindly on those who make easily-avoidable mistakes. So drink like college students should, only make it water and not alcohol. Alcohol does not help you study…
RULE #5: Be Prepared
Scenario: Day of Final. You show up to class ready to go. Professor begins handing out exam, tells you to be sure to put the test color on your Scantron. Oops. No Scantron? Tough luck. There goes all your hopes, dreams, and ambitions. I’m joking… sort of. Be SURE to have everything you need for your exam. Pack it the night before and check it all before you leave for your test. Pack Scantrons, extra pencils, pens, erasers, scratch paper, calculators, light snacks, and batteries. And hope. Don’t forget hope. Also take your study guides or notes so you can review them before the test starts. When you show up for your Final, you should be good to go and ready to dominate that poor, lifeless, unfortunate test that just so happened to be put in front of you.
RULE #4: Eat Good
I have excellent grammar, and I said what I meant. It’s vital to your health and your Finals Week success that you eat good foods and do not simply get caught up in the fast food and the take out. Especially if you have a morning Final, don’t skip out on that all-important meal of breakfast. Have something substantial. Wake up 5 minutes early if you need to. Have something hot if it’s cold outside. But the worst feeling in the world (okay, maybe not the WORST) is getting hungry during a test. Check out this guide for good Finals Week diet suggestions. Eat up and keep that engine roaring.
RULE #3: Break Time
It sound weird to say that you should spend time NOT studying. But it’s true. You can burn yourself out and become a way less effective studyer if you just study, study, study with no breaks. Take time to exercise. According to Dr. Paul Leavis of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, the psychological benefits reaped from at least 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, such as running, biking, or training on the elliptical machine, can last for up to 12 hours. So putting more stress on your muscles actually reduces all that mental stress building up from the hours upon hours of reading and writing. And gives you awesome biceps.
RULE #2: Facebook Is The Devil
No, I’m not impersonating Bobby Boucher’s mom from Waterboy. But let me illustrate. Raise your hand if you have a Facebook. Now keep your hand up if you have logged into Facebook today. Keep it up if you have spend at least 15 minutes on Facebook today. Keep it up if you are logged into Facebook right now. Obviously the point is that Facebook is a huge destroyer of time and attention. And the one thing at a premium during Finals Week is time. And I personally don’t have the best attention span. So Facebook kills my studying momentum. I’m not saying you have to disable your Facebook or anything (if you do, however, see these instructions), but exercise some self-control and don’t have Facebook open while you study. Same goes for Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon, and the ill-advised Pinterest. Just don’t.
RULE #1: Smile
This may be a surprise to you, but you are not the only one taking a Final. Whoa, what? No way? Yes way. And to top it all off Finals only last one week, sometimes even less. Some people out there have real jobs where they have to work and study EVERY day. I shutter at the thought… But fortunately for us, we only have to endure this struggle for one week. One, short, measley, coffee and Red Bull-fueled week where we spend more hours studying than sleeping; where we break more pens and patience than we do the rest of the semester; where we realize just how much we weren’t paying attention in that class. All we have to do is just make it through this ONE WEEK. And then it’s over. But I’m nervous, what if I do poorly on my test? First of all, follow these rules and you won’t fail. You know what you need to do to succeed. So do it well and you will do well. Realize that you are better than Finals Week, that Finals Week is just an annoying little parasite that you can smash. But you DO have to smash it. If you don’t, it will eat you alive.
What I’m trying to get at here is that you need to remember that this is all trivial. You are a smart, fantastic, organized person and you will do amazing on all your Finals. Remember that, and smile. Smile and laugh and sing throughout Finals Week because you need to do it and other people need to hear it. This is not the end of the world, just the end of the semester. And yes, there is life after Finals Week.