Fighting finals: how to come out on top this semester

By Xirena Wormley


Tis’ the season for finals and for many college students that means stress, late night studying and cramming. The increased work load from finals and the heavy impact on grades can cause feelings of anxiety and depression among students.

Students during the “final” crunch.
Photo Credit: Xirena Wormley

Though joyous times of the holidays are around the corner, students must first get past the tedious times of final papers and exams. For the holidays many students could receive the best present of all: a good grade on their finals if they follow the advice of professors, faculty and fellow students to help them prepare.

For many students preparation involves spending countless hours in a secluded area alone with their textbook. The library is often packed with students who are buried in textbooks and scattered class notes. Some students like Meghan Sullivan, who is a sophomore studying biology, views studying as a serious independent endeavor.

“I need absolute peace and quiet,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan is in the library at least two hours four times a week. She believes that more students should be as dedicated to their work on a regular basis. If they were, Sullivan said, they would be less worried about major exams because they would already be prepared.

Many students are not as relaxed and confident about finals as Sullivan. Research Librarian Marquan Mutazz describes the atmosphere in the library as somber and intense during the finals season.

The mood in the library is a stark contrast to the cheerful feeling that typically surrounds this time of year. He states that he has seen many students walk in visibly stressed about their impending final deadline.

The advice that Mutazz offers for the anxious student final exam population is one word: study. According to Mutazz, in order for students to attain a desirable grade on their finals they must be clear about the expectations of their professor. After they are aware of the professor’s standards they must follow through in preparation.

“The key is to do both in unison,” Mutazz said. “Many times I see students read the entire book but they don’t know what their professor’s expectations are.”

Students during the “final” crunch.
Photo Credit: Xirena Wormley

According to Mutazz preparation without understanding is often a combination for disaster. He recommends speaking with the professor ahead of time to learn exactly what the exam or paper should entail.

For those who prefer less traditional study methods there are other ways to prepare for finals.

“I don’t study a lot for finals. I just pay attention during class and do my assignments,” Simone Price said. “I figure I don’t know it by now I never will.”

Though this tactic may work for some students it is not recommend for everyone. According to Price each individual should develop their own study methods and know what is best for them in order to succeed.

She said that the worst mistake students can make is using study techniques that do not fit their particular learning style.

“For me studying in the library or in extremely quiet places isn’t an effective way to prepare for an exam,” said Price.

Instead she gets into study mode by popping some popcorn turning on some music and inviting her friends over for a study party.  Whichever way students decide to get ready for their dreaded finals, Price says the best advice she can give her fellow students is to do what comes natural to them.

Many students are familiar with the concept of last minute studying; otherwise known as cramming.

Around the time of finals late at night one can find Andre Stokes, who is a criminal justice major in his junior year, vigorously flipping through pages in his textbook. Stokes admitted that he usually isn’t as studious.  However, with finals looming around the corner it is time to make it or break it.

Stokes’ suggestion for students who are on the verge of academic oblivion is to get caffeine or an energy drink and hit the books.

“I usually give myself a few days to catch up on my work and study for my exams,” Stokes said.

Though many people argue that last minute studying is a bad idea Stokes said he works best under pressure even when he has to pull a few all nighters.

No matter how students study or don’t study during finals, many will breathe a sigh of relief when they receive a passing grade. Each individual has their own study habits but knowing what works best for themselves and being prepared makes all the difference.

While enjoying holiday festivities, this year students could be thankful for an exceptional grade if they follow this advice in order complete a successful semester.

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