As college students, we generally have very little to worry about. Aside from difficult, complicated classes and multi-page, politically correct papers, our lives are pretty laid back. We live with our friends; we can get delicious, steaming hot waffles from the Scranton Commons every Saturday morning; we can do what we want when we want, with little to no authoritative interaction. There is, however, one week a year when every college student realizes how easy they actually have it: finals week.
Finals week is easily one of the most stressful, dreaded and demanding weeks out of each semester. Hundred question tests and what feels like hundred page papers become more important to us than anything else in the world. This is the week when college students fall under the radar and are virtually unreachable. They trudge to the library at all hours of the day and night, dragging twenty-five pound backpacks behind them and fill any and every quiet study place they can find in a last ditch effort to make the grade. Finals week is about much more than just making it through seven days of tests, papers and projects. It’s about survival.
Just like every student is an individual and not every student likes mustard on his hotdog, every student has a different feeling about finals week. “I feel fine,” said Bloomsburg University student Amanda Hopkins, “I don’t even feel that stressed out. But I am a freshman and my courses aren’t very hard.” One would think that a student’s first time on the finals rollercoaster would be a pretty scary experience, but it seems that many new Bloomsburg students are confident about this semester’s final assessments. “I’m not really phased, I’m just worried about one hard class I have,” said another freshman, AJ Bull, who added, “I make a study guide and quiz myself on the material, and then read over the book a little bit, so I’m pretty confident I will do OK.”
How exactly to prepare and how much to study are crucial elements to surviving what feels like the longest week of the whole semester. Professors tell you to review the material from the whole semester and have a working understanding of its content, which may not seem like a lot, but when you get down to it, it could be an enormous amount of information. Not only do they expect you to have a firm grasp on the material in the text book, but they also anticipate you having a good understanding of the lecture notes and worksheets that were gone over in class. So, how does one prepare to take an exam on what seems like years worth of curriculum?
“I go over all my notes and even the old tests,” said Lamar Seger, a sophomore. Many professors make your old tests available to you during the week before finals so you can review what will be asked on the last exam. Also, rewriting notes and even making them into note cards seems to be a favorite way to study among students. The idea of having a roommate or friend quiz you on your notes came up in conversation as well.
However, some students have found eccentric ways and interesting techniques in which to prepare for finals, some of which may not work for everyone. Matt Umstead, a freshman, has created a pretty complex system on how he is going to prepare for finals this year. “Study and sleep, a lot,” he said.
All of this helpful information may be overwhelming, and you may still be asking yourself, “What am I going to do?” Never fear! Students who have been around the finals block a few times always have a helpful word of advice. “Don’t over study!” said Seger. “Take as many study breaks as you need to so you don’t overload on information.” Over-studying can be defined as “the act of taking in far too much information far too quickly, resulting in a complete brain melt down during test time.” Don’t let this happen to you! Students have said that locking yourself in the library for ten hours at a time is not the way to study; you will get too burnt out too quickly. Junior Greg Mason also had a little advice to give to those fraught by finals. “Do as much as you want to do or as much as you think will help,” he said. Everyone studies and learns differently, so using a plan that works for you is usually a good policy to follow.
Some finals first timers were also willing to lend a hand to a friend in need. “Don’t stay up late, get a good night’s rest, eat a huge breakfast and just don’t stress yourself out too much,” said Bull. Even our friend “Sleeping Beauty” had a word or two of wisdom. “Don’t go out every night the weekend before finals. Make sure you are sleeping and eating well, too,” said Umstead.
Finals: a word that makes almost every college student quiver in their Ugg boots. Of course, it is going to be difficult, draining, time consuming and even frightening, but making it through the next seven days isn’t completely impossible. Being prepared, getting into good study habits, taking advantage of the help your professors will give you and taking care of yourself are essential to your survival. So good luck, happy studying and may the “finals gods” smile upon you this semester.