The most dreaded time of the year for every university student – finals week. When thinking of finals, one can conjure images of over-caffeinated students cramming late into the night, subsisting solely on Red Bull, Doritos, and Snickers bars. If you’ve ever been to the Millar Library during finals week, you can see sleep-deprived students slumped over their textbooks and laptops, napping in between bouts of frantic studying. But does finals week have to create this hysterical frenzy in all of us? Or is there a way for students to breathe, relax, and treat finals as a simple culmination of what we’ve learned all term? In an effort to answer these questions and to assure my fellow final-takers that finals week doesn’t have to suck, I’ve explored the resources that PSU offers to help students with studying and my top 10 tips on how to prepare for finals week.
PSU offers a variety of resources to help students prepare for finals week and even to just aid us throughout the entire term.
First, the Learning Center. If you’ve ever wanted help with studying for a test or just need someone to talk out a concept with you, this is the place. The Learning Center offers both drop-in tutoring services and online aid via its eTutoring option. The tutoring services range from everything from math and statistics to economics to foreign languages. The Learning Center also provides links to some helpful online study resources to help you get through the term.
If you’re ever struggling with a paper, check out the Writing Center. Located in Cramer Hall, you can schedule either 30 minute or one hour appointments. The Writing Center’s website also offers a step-by-step guided tour to writing papers and video tutorials on tips for writing great papers.
PSU even offers a three-credit course to help students be organized, study better, and stay prepared for whatever may come your way academically. The College Success course is offered multiple times spring term – be sure to register if you’re interested!
Being near the end of my time here at PSU, I’ve taken more tests than I can count and survived many finals weeks. I’ve created a list of my top ten tips on how to stay sane through finals. Although some of the tips may seem obvious or be things that you’re already doing, they’re very important and easy to forget. Try to keep an open mind!
1. Don’t procrastinate. I’ve found that procrastination is one of my worst qualities. We all do it; life creeps up on us, responsibilities amount, Netflix calls our name…but don’t do it! The best way to keep stress levels down during finals week is to ensure that you’ve completed all assignments and work ahead of time and that you understand the material before dead week. It’ll save you time and energy, I promise.
2. Do all readings ahead of time. Although this tip may seem very similar to the previous, it is so important that it needs its own section. If you get all of your readings done when they’re supposed to be done, you’ll ensure that you have plenty of time to work out any of the concepts that you don’t understand ahead of time. That way, you’ll be sure that you’re not poring over statistical models at 3:00 am the night before your stats final.
3. Set measurable study goals. Parcel out everything that you need to do. Make it bite-sized and manageable. Put it in a calendar. Make its aesthetically attractive. Ensure that you have enough time to do everything that you need to do. Giving yourself reasonable, timely goals will sincerely help to reduce stress come finals week.
4. Sleep enough, eat healthy, and exercise. You can never undervalue the importance of your health. Getting through finals week without sacrificing your health and your sanity should be one of your top priorities. And, seriously, sleep at least eight hours – our brains can’t function without enough sleep!
5. Say no to study groups if it won’t benefit you. Study with your friends only if you know that you’ll be able to accomplish your study goals. If your friends are chatty-Kathys or are too distracting, just say no.
6. Meet with your professor during office hours. Often times our teachers just sit idly during their office hours with no students showing up to ask for help. Take advantage of office hours! It’s one of the best, and most under-utilized, resources that we’re offered at PSU.
7. Take breaks. Studying for six hours straight helps no one. It’ll also make it near impossible to absorb any of the information that you’re reading. So follow the 50-10 rule – study for 50 minutes, take a break for 10. It’ll guarantee that your brain stays relaxed enough to help you through finals.
8. Say it out loud. Write it down. Our brains process information in a variety of ways. Sometimes just reading something for the second or third time doesn’t cut it. Or sometimes reading for hours on end is mind-numbingly boring. So spice it up. Sing your study notes. Write it down with a bright-green sharpie. Do whatever you need to do to keep your brain active and engaged.
9. Turn off your Facebook! Social media can be such a mind suck. It’s also very easy to turn to social media when your brain has been overloaded. So just save checking Instagram for your breaks. Don’t let it eat up your precious studying time!
10. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay.
Finals week is hard. It may be the hardest week of the year. But you’ll get through it. Check out some of the resources listed above and try out some of my top 10 studying tips. And, above all, relax.
~Mckenzie Miller ’15, Fearless Business Student