By Sherrie Martin and Bethany Stacy–
With finals week right around the corner, there are most likely lots of very anxious and stressed out freshmen who have no idea what to expect or how to prepare. So here’s a little bit of advice from a couple of seniors that will hopefully keep some of you from losing your minds over finals:
- Do not procrastinate
This is always the sanity killer. Believe us when we tell you that waiting until the last minute to study for exams and write final papers is one of the worst things you can possibly do.
“Staying up a few days in a row to cram is not fun at all. It sucks and you end up forgetting everything anyway,” said senior Tori Horsey. We definitely agree. Cramming for an exam the night before only works to a certain extent, and usually does more harm than good.
You do not want to pull multiple all-nighters and end up so slap happy that you resort to putting a hat on your knee and drawing a cowboy on your leg, or worse, end up having a mental breakdown from cracking under all of the pressure. Trust us, we know all of this from experience. Our suite was a chaotic place to be during finals week of our first semester. Thankfully, we have learned from our mistakes.
- Get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation is never a good thing when you need your brain to be functioning at 110 percent to get everything done. You don’t want to crash or have a mental breakdown like we mentioned before.
It seems like staying awake is the best way to accomplish it all, but having a well-rested and clear mind will make you much more productive. You’ll have more energy to study or write, and won’t have to spend time re-reading the same paragraph over and over again because you’re too tired to grasp it.
Getting enough sleep can also be helpful in calming nerves, as many studies have linked anxiety to sleep loss. If you find yourself queasy on exam day, this may be a sign that you have pushed your body to its limit and you need some quality rest.
If it is absolutely impossible to get in your eight hours, take a nap! Give your body and mind as much rest as possible. No matter how anxious you are over finals, close your books, laptop and phone, drink a cup of hot tea, and you will drift away in no time. Stress often causes us to ignore what our body is telling us… that it needs sleep! In the end, cramming often does more harm than good.
- Review old exams and materials.
This is especially true for big lecture classes with cumulative final exams. They seem scary because there’s so much information to remember, but most of the time, they contain the core material and recycle old exam questions. This was true in macro and microeconomics classes, as well as biology.
So spending a little bit of time quizzing yourself with previous exams can be a real lifesaver! Even if the questions aren’t the exact same, chances are that they will be very similar.
When asked what their favorite study method is, there was a strong consensus on flash cards. “Index cards are my go-to for sure, and having people quiz me with them is the most helpful” said Hannah Stemler, a university junior.
“Same for me,” said her friend, Arden Groves. “I also color-code my index cards based on the significance of the topic and the likelihood that it will be on the exam.”
- Take advantage of REACH and other academic resources on campus
It’s such cookie cutter advice, but sometimes having someone break down concepts that you don’t quite understand can be extremely helpful and save you time and frustration. In addition to not always having a complete understanding when class ends, professors are busy, and are not always readily available when you have an urgent question.
REACH offers drop-in tutoring all day Monday through Friday. You can also schedule an appointment on their website for on-campus or online tutoring sessions. Check out the REACH website to find out specific subjects, locations, and hours. REACH is a free service, so why not use it as much as you can?
For final papers, the Writing Center in Ekstrom Library is a good resource to utilize. If you are having trouble wording something properly, can’t seem to figure out what you want to say, or just need someone to give feedback, there’s someone there who can help you out.
Hopefully you find any or all of these tips helpful. At the end of the day, it’s important to realize that finals are not the end of the world and winter break is right around the corner! Regardless of how awful and stressful finals week may be for you, it’ll feel great to have it behind you and have the semester under your belt.