By Jacob Schaperow
Final exams are coming up, and a lot of us probably feel like the guy in this Diamondback cartoon, making a heroic effort to cling on for just one more week. While we try frantically to finish our term papers, group projects and homework assignments, I’d like to share some (cynical) recommendations for how to approach what I see as “the five S’s” of final exams, as well as some actual good advice.
‘The five S’s’
Take advantage of the one time of year when quiet hours are actually effective by going to bed at a decent hour every night. Without 8 a.m. classes to go to (unless you have an 8 a.m. final — debatably the only thing worse than a Saturday final), you might be tempted to pull all-night study sessions, but maintaining a regular, diurnal sleep schedule will help you retain information better, and you won’t run the risk of oversleeping.
Study in an obscure location: The obscurer the better-er. After the aforementioned fish-bowl, I recommend the CCC, the basement of the Chem library, or anywhere on the upper floors or McKeldin, provided you get there early enough in the morning to snag a table. Same goes for study lounges. Warning: there will usually be somebody pulling an all-nighter. Bring air freshener/earplugs as needed.
Shabbat, or the day that you pretend you’re going to read but actually take a nap. Fortunately, with the convenient overlap of finals and the winter solstice, you can get back to work at, like 5:30 p.m., 6 if you go to long Havdalah.
Freshmen and sophomores: buy your upperclassmen friends meals with those free guest meals that it turns out you only used for “Meal Swap.”
Juniors and seniors: Use up all those extra Hillel meals that you have left over from your “Gold” meal plan. In case you don’t have extra meals, see above.
Aren’t you glad this is over? #hornbake #piledriver
Actual good advice
Start studying early — you don’t have to study the same subject for six hours in a row every day. Switch it up, so you don’t get burned out of one subject.
Get a good night’s sleep — every night. Even if you have to have a conversation with your roommates/neighbors/the garage band downstairs to achieve this, sleeping in a quiet environment for 7-8 hours every night will help boost your retention of knowledge.
Study on your own in a quiet, non-distracting environment. Study in a group only after you have developed a fairly good understanding of the material. Talking through scenarios with classmates is an effective way to reinforce knowledge you’ve gained through studying on your own.
Take breaks. If you refrain from work on Shabbat, this one is easy. Otherwise, take one 10-minute break for every hour of studying.
Just took an exam? Start studying for the next one. I know it’s probably the last thing you want to do after taking a test, but nobody else is doing it — it will give you an edge.
Jacob Schaperow is a civil engineering – environmental and water resources major. He can be reached at email@example.com.
When do(n’t) you like your finals?