Finals Week Stress Necessitates Preparation

By Katie Bedard
Elm Staff Writer

Coming back from Thanksgiving break, it may come as surprise that finals are less than two weeks away. Some classes that have papers and presentations instead of the traditional written exam can have presentation dates set as early as the last couple of days of November.

For that reason, students should be starting to create a study plan that would cover the last few weeks of the semester. This goes for everyone, whether they’ll have tests and projects covering the entirety of the last few weeks or just the last week. The last thing anyone at Washington College should do is pull a couple of all-nighters days before their tests.

For notorious procrastinators, the idea that finals are weeks away is enough of an excuse to continuously push back studying. Just the thought of sitting down and studying when there will be future opportunities to do so can bitterly affect someone’s mood. Studying now, in small increments, will drastically affect stress levels leading up to the last week.

It helps to give yourself a broken down plan that is step-by-step. “Create a master to-do list and a schedule for the remaining days in the semester,” said Director of Student Success for Augustana College Billie Streufert, in the article “25 crucial study tips for finals week” for USA Today. “Break cumulative exams into smaller study units, which will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and help you monitor your progress daily.”

How students study will be a factor for finals. While projects and papers are more straightforward in their requirements, studying for a written test can be more complicated if students aren’t completely aware of what they will be tested on. For example, a professor could give their class a couple of prompts for an essay and tell them that they should study for all of them, even though they’ll just be writing one on the exam.

Other professors might not even give students much of an idea of what their final will be on. This could stress out students who have no idea where to start with their studying. In that case, it is important to section off a good portion of time to that test. Creating a study guide for that class would help outline how that time would be used.

When studying, students should look for any point when they didn’t quite understand the material, whether it was a lower grade on a paper or quiz, or just a point in the notes that didn’t make sense. It’s important to go over all topics discussed in class, but putting the extra time into understanding the harder aspects will certainly pay off.

On top of actually studying, students should also exercise and keep their bodies healthy during finals. This includes saying “no” to midnight McDonald’s trips, and trying to sleep normally.

“If you want to maximize your time learning you must sleep,” said Director of the Sleep to Live Institute Robert Oexman in the article “Don’t Skip Sleep To Score High On Finals” for The Huffington Post. “Research has consistently shown that taking the time to sleep before an exam will benefit your test score more than four or five hours of staying awake staring at notes you will not remember.”

Most important, all students need to take finals seriously. It doesn’t matter if a class seemed really easy; finals can significantly alter a grade if the student taking them doesn’t put in the effort to study. Even putting aside 20 minutes a day to go through the materials can help a student finish the semester with success.

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