As April comes to a close and May begins, most students are beginning to think about the dreaded “f-word”, finals. Yes, it is that time of year again when professors gather all of the information they have provided students over the semester and compile it into one grueling assignment. While some students may have non-cumulative finals or papers in lieu of exams, it is important to prepare for all final assignments. Despite the fact that almost everyone is feeling the drag of the last few weeks of the semester, before summer break comes and student launch into internships, international travel or a well-deserved few weeks of rest, final exams and papers usually comprise a large portion of students grade and should not be taken lightly.
- The first step to a successful finals week experience is to begin preparing early. For cumulative exams, you might be tested on something that hasn’t crossed your mind in months, so it is a good idea to skim those slides and notes from the beginning of the semester to refresh some of that older material. Nobody deserves to be put through Norlin all-nighters the day before an exam, so do yourself a favor and pace yourself by studying a little bit for each exam you have during the weeks leading up to finals. (Suggestion on how to accomplish this? I like that he did that for the paper so reflecting that would be great) Likewise, term papers are often 10 pages or more, and definitely not something you want to be throwing together at the last minute. Try writing a good outline of a term paper long before it is due and adding to it and revising it as you find more information and begin to hone in on exactly what your professor is looking for.
- It is also incredibly important that, if you have questions about anything regarding an exam or final paper, you’re not afraid to ask. Unless it is already on the syllabus (never under any circumstances should you email your professor a question that can be answered by the syllabus), professors are happy to answer any and all of your questions. They would much rather you come and see them in order to be prepared before the final examination than be disgruntled afterwards. Usually, office hours are sparsely attended at best, despite the fact that they are a great resource for getting questions answered and finding some insight into what you need to know for your exams or what might need to be included in final papers. Furthermore, TA’s and LA’s (maybe define what a TA and LA is for our future student audience) are another phenomenal and under-utilized resource. Although they are students just like you and me, they are working in that position for a reason and are more than capable of answering study questions or helping you nail down a solid draft of a paper. If office hours are not your cup of tea, try getting together with your classmates and reviewing the material together, chances are they will have insight into aspects of the class you might be struggling with.
- The final step to conquering finals week is to relax, smile and get some sleep. While a little bit of stress is a solid motivator for getting to work, spending large amounts of time worrying about your finals will not do you any good. In the time between study sessions, make sure to unwind, watch some Netflix and maybe splurge a little on some Hungry Buffs (you deserve it for all the hard work you’ve put in this semester). Furthermore, make sure to get some rest. No matter how much you study, a sleep deprived brain might have trouble coming up with your own name, let alone the intricacies of the Russian Revolution which you are being tested on. While finals are a stressful time, try not to worry too much. It might seem like your entire life is riding on one grade in a particular class, but this is almost never the case. If you prepare early and often, and make sure to not get too overwhelmed, you’ll be done with finals and on to your summer plans in no time.
Best of Luck!