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The Finals Week Survival Kit: Don’t Just Pass, Prosper

By Joseph Iemma
Staff Writer

Every semester college students are faced with a familiar and formidable foe: finals week. Now just under two weeks away, students of all majors are gearing up for the final push to academic freedom, a highly anticipated and much needed winter break. So, what are the best ways students can ensure themselves a strong finish to the semester?

Here are five major tips on how to get through finals week on an academic high note.

Photo by Thomas Gillen  Zach Washor, health science major studying in the library
Photo by Thomas Gillen
Zach Washor, health science major studying in the library

Tip #1: Avoid Cramming; Sleep is Essential

Procrastination is directly related to poor time management, according to various studies. Since finals week is looming, start looking over your notes now, not two to three days before your test. Don’t believe it? Well, in 2012 the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Bio-behavioral Sciences conducted a study on the relationship between study and sleep.

In the study, researchers found that “study time became increasingly associated with more academic problems, because longer study hours generally meant fewer hours of sleep. In turn, that predicted greater academic problems the following day.” In essence, too much studying without an adequate amount of sleep is detrimental to students. Formulating a quality plan of action to getting the grade you want on your final is simple—set up a 10-day plan. Manage your daily schedule to adequately fit two to three hours of studying while achieving at least six to eight hours of sleep a night. You’ll feel less tired, less anxious, and your body will likely not betray you with illness or fatigue prior to your test date.

Tip #2: Find a Quiet Place for Study

If you ever wondered why the librarian sprints 40 yards down a library hallway to ensure and maintain silence, well, here’s why: In a TedX Talk, Julian Treasure, a sound expert, spoke to an audience on how sound affects the human psyche and work productivity. Treasure found that human beings are “66 [percent] less productive in an open plan office” environment. How could that be?

Treasure stressed that in order to maintain focus and maximize work potential, humans— in this case students—need a calm, silent environment. Park yourself in a quiet spot to study, the campus library, study hall, or a college dormitory room all to yourself.

Tip #3: Chew Gum While Studying

Did you know that chewing gum acts as a stimulant for the brain? According to, researchers at St. Lawrence University found that “chewing motion gets blood flowing to the brain where it improves memory, according to how quickly a test-taker can recall information in the lab.”

This phenomenon is called “mastication-induced arousal,” and can help provide a slight edge when it comes to memorizing that quick history fact or that ever-so complicated calculus formula.

Tip #4: Be Honest With Yourself, Extra-Help Makes a Difference

Phone a friend, phone home, ask a professor, go to the writing center—this list can go on and on. If you feel that you’re lagging in a particular aspect of a course, look for solutions. Professors are more than willing to sit down with you for the extra 5-10 minutes after class to explain a theory or a fact to you. They welcome student visits during their office hours. If that doesn’t do it for you, the writing center is free of charge. All it takes is an appointment or in some cases just a walk-in Q&A session.

Tip #5: Be Your Best Asset, Not Your Worst Enemy

Attention millennials: If you fail to prepare, then you should be prepared to fail, as Benjamin Franklin said. We can’t be anymore straightforward. Drop your phone, log-out of Facebook, deactivate your Instagram and hit the books. Social media surfing can be tempting.

Yes, those pictures from last winter break are always fun to look through, but will they help you pass biology? No. It’s time to get down to business, your friends will be there on the other side of finals week.

Don’t hold yourself back from achieving the grades you deserve. Sit down, focus, study and embrace the challenge of finals week, because if you don’t, it’s worth noting that winter courses are not covered by standard tuition fees.


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