The last few weeks of the semester can get a little stressful. And not because you just can’t seem to find the perfect present for everyone on your list (or in my case because you keep getting distracted by Macy’s shoe department and never get around to buying those other presents), but because of finals. Remember those? Probably not.
If you’re a freshman you have absolutely no idea what horrors await you, and if you’re an upperclassmen you’ve more than likely blocked out this horrific experience. But yet, here you are. Professors are bombarding with you deadlines and dates, final papers and exam study guides and more information than you could possibly handle while you’re still recovering from your Thanksgiving-induced food coma.
You can’t even pronounce half the stuff on you history study guide and those calculus questions might as well be written in morse code for all you can deicer. It’s okay. Take a deep breath. You can get through this.
And I can help.
As a senior taking on her (second to) final finals week, I like to think I have this studying thing down. For a while there I kept getting it confused with napping, but I’ve since cleared things up, and I’m willing to share my infinite wisdom with you. So before you do anything else you need to…
1. Get organized.
You can’t pass your finals if you don’t show up on time, and you can’t hand in your paper if you don’t know when it’s due. So open up your planner and take all of your syllabi ( those things they handed out at the beginning of the semester with a list of reading assignments you haven’t done) and start writing out the deadlines. Outline your papers, and map out which days you will work on each assignment so you know that nothing will be left to the last minute. By the time all of that is done you’ll have scheduled something for every minute of every day until move out. (Are you panicking yet?) Normally this is the part where my eyes would start to twitch uncontrollably, and I’d call my friend and we’d rant about how absurd our schedules are for the next few weeks and make all sorts of plans to celebrate once finals are over. Then I’d eat some chocolate and go to bed. But hey, to each her own.
Once that is out of your system you’re ready to actually start studying. But in order to do that you need to…
2. Get rid of all of your distractions.
Turn off your cell phone. Log out of Facebook (or at least set a timer to limit yourself). Shut off the TV. Find a quiet corner in the library away from friends and enemies and anyone else you might have the slightest inclination to talk to. Then start working, because you will work, purely because you will have absolutely nothing else to do. Solitary confinement isn’t pretty, but it works.
And that’s why you should…
3. Avoid study groups at all costs.
At least, when it’s time for the heavy duty, serious studying. You want to meet with some people from your class a week before the final? That’s fine. Make outlines, discuss essay topics, quiz each other on stuff neither one of you will know yet and make notes to go over that stuff later on. But when you’re in the home stretch, study by yourself. When you’re with other people you will not study. Trust me, I’ve been there. It starts out innocent enough, someone will make a comment about how your professors says “like” after every other word. This will lead to an in depth analysis of his character which will lead to someone bringing up another professor’s annoying habits which will lead to a discussion on which professors’ classes to take next semester and who to avoid, and what exactly did ratemyprofessor.com say again? Five hours later you’ll be discussing what a great teacher Mr. Feeney was, and reminiscing about the ’90s.
Pretty basic stuff, right? Nothing you haven’t heard before? Well, that’s because it works. Stay organized. Be aware of your deadlines. Don’t leave things to the last minute. Stay away from distractions when crunch time comes, and avoid joining in on a study group that will turn into a social call. Take deep breaths, and try not to panic.
To quote Rory Gilmore, study guru herself, “If all else fails you can always marry rich.”