Finals Part II: The Redemption

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Tomorrow will be my last midterm, which means that, after tomorrow, it will officially be finals season. I did okay on my finals last semester, but this semester “okay” isn’t good enough. Here are some tips to do finals right this time, from someone who has learned from her mistakes.

1. Amplectamini Certamine
This phrase is Latin for “embrace the struggle,” something that was often repeated in my high school Latin class. The reason for this is that Latin is a really hard subject, but it’s also one that has been practiced for thousands of years. It isn’t hard to find translations of the Aeneid or Metamorphoses on the internet, and it might save you an hour each night. But, the week before an exam, it starts to occur to you that it’s impossible to memorize a hundred lines of Latin, along with every case, use, and literary device attached to each word. Even if you do manage to pull off a B on the test, what was the point? You won’t be able to look at the text and be able to translate it, something that is a really cool skill. I know it’s hard to see when you’re stressing out over four or five subjects at once, but what good does it do to cram isolated bits of information into your head for one test? At some point, the knowledge you were supposed to have gathered over the course of the semester will come in handy in the next level of the course. And even if it doesn’t, if you’re cutting corners in a gen Ed whose contents you’ll never revisit again, you won’t have gained anything from all of that time you spent in class, which is a shame.

2. Early Bird Gets the Worm
I think I started studying in advance for finals last semester, but I definitely could have done more. When you think about it, the time between your last midterm and finals is going to be at least three weeks, which is ample time to study. Also, if you start studying in advanced then your favorite study spots, like the main library and the Blank Honors Center, won’t be packed with people, which can improve the quality of your studying. The good thing about second semester finals is that, unlike first semester, the weather is gorgeous, so take advantage of the Pentacrest lawn and other outdoor spots as prime studying locations. Just remember to wear a hat or sunglasses because after a few hours the heat can start to get to you, and studying on the brink of insanity isn’t much better than not studying at all.

3. Put in a Steady Effort
A couple weeks ago, I had a paper, two midterms, and a lab due on the same day. In order to get all of it done, I pulled an all-nighter, fueling myself with energy drinks and coffee. I cannot emphasize enough how terrible of an idea this is. Not only did I have heartburn and a stomach ache all day, but, by trying to accomplish everything at once, I ended up performing below expectations on all of my work. Sometimes deadlines will unexpectedly pop up, shifting your priorities when you needed it the least, which is why you always have to be prepared. If I were to do it over again, I would have spread out my workload so that I did a little of everything each day, instead of going weeks without touching my paper and then spending nine hours in the library two days before it was due in an attempt to make all of my revisions. I’ve also found that my sentences always sound great at 3am, and math problems seem obvious enough, but come the next morning everything seems to fall apart. So, in summation, spend time on every subject every day, even if some deadlines are more immediate than others. It will break the cycle of panicked studying right before the exam, and solidifying the information in your brain every day will engrain it into your memory better than at, say, two in the morning on the day of the test.

That’s all the advice I have for now. Good luck, Hawkeyes, and remember, keep calm and study on!