Finals. The very word inspires fear in the hearts of college students everywhere. But really, finals aren’t that bad, and at LMU, finals week can actually be kind of, dare I say it, fun!
Here at LMU, during finals, there are no regularly scheduled classes. All you have to do is show up for your test at the university-assigned time. That means one thing: plenty of free time. Don’t be fooled though, you’ll obviously have to study. That’s why finals are set up that way. The time away from classes gives you plenty of time to study. But you’ll also need study breaks.
Now, my first semester at LMU I lucked out and didn’t have any finals that were actually during finals week. I basically got a free week of Christmas break and my friends were all still around. This spoiled me though. The next semester, I was in for a rude awakening. I had a final almost every day of finals week, my every night was spent studying and writing papers and generally stressing about my academic life.
Luckily, that never happened again. Since my freshman year, my finals have been pretty well spread out during finals week. This has allowed me time to adequately study and to start winding down from school-mode to break-mode.
But for those last few days when you’re in super-school-mode, here are some tips that work for me:
1. Prepare yourself. Arm yourself with your favorite drinks, snacks, blankets, pillows, music (or silence if you’re like me), and all your study material. Lay everything out. It’s like your little finals survival kit that’s going to get you through the week. For me, it’s also always fun putting together this ‘kit’. It’s something to get my mind off the actual studying for a minute before I know I have to commit myself to academia.
2. Find a spot. Find a regular study spot where you’re comfortable and not at the risk of giving you too many distractions. For me, this is one of the most important steps. I have a hard time concentrating in my room, so I usually always end up in the library. There, I feel more focused and there are fewer distractions. It’s also a bigger space so I feel a lot less claustrophobic.
3. That leads to the third tip: don’t suffocate yourself. Take breaks, go outside, take a jog, or watch an episode of your favorite TV show. Overloading your brain with a constant stream of information is just going to make you overwhelmed and unfocused.
4. Form a support group. They’ll help keep you focused. I always study better in a group. I know that’s not true for everyone, but at least give it a try to see if it works. I know for me, I always do better on tests that I’ve gotten to talk over with my classmates. They might remember things about the class that I don’t. They might have liked some specific topic better than I did and can tell me more about it. The network also provides emotional support. It’s always nice to see that you aren’t the only one stressing about something and it’s nice to get pep talks from time to time. Forming this network has been pivotal in helping me pass my finals.
5. Again, make sure you’re prepared, this time, to take the test. I always walk into my finals with extras of everything: extra pens, extra pencils, tons of paper, two Blue Books in case someone forgot theirs (trust me, it’s happened to the best of us), and all my study material in case the professor gracefully gives us a few extra minutes to cram.
6. I guess the most important tip, though is not to panic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve panicked and stressed and freaked out over a test only to walk into the final, take one look at the paper, and realize Hey, I’ve got this! If you’ve gone to class, taken notes, done your assignments, and studied, there’s no reason to worry about your final.
And! Once you’re done taking your finals or studying for them, you get to spend a few last days with your friends, roommates, or significant others before the long-awaited, much-welcomed Christmas break! In fact, that’s why the end of finals week is one of my favorite times during the semester. Everyone is less-stressed and pumped about the break and wants to squeeze those last few moments in with loved ones before a long (three weeks is a long time, isn’t it?!) break.