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Peer Adviser Post: Finals Tips OR How to Love Finals

Peer Adviser Post: Finals Tips OR How to Love Finals
By Sophie Qian SEAS '15

The winter chill is in the air, which means that finals are right around the corner! As I finish my last classes of the semester and I think of reading week and finals coming up, I feel a small sense of dread. However, that also means the holidays and break are also coming right up, which makes me feel better. I also know that finals don't HAVE to be a miserable experience, because there a few small ways that YOU can make it a more enjoyable, or at least less unpleasant.

It may sound unrealistic but there IS a way to enjoy this time of the year, despite how stressful final exams can be. After all, a large part of our grades depend on these finals, and all Columbia students want to excel in their classes. But there IS a way to make taking the exams more enjoyable. The stress that we collectively experience is helpful up to a certain degree, as the urgency and importance of the exams motivates us. But if students are pushing their bodies too hard, they can become sick and actually do worse on the exam than if they were easier on themselves. With that being said, here are a few tips to help not just survive, but at least not hate, finals:

  • Get comfortable: do whatever YOU need to be comfortable while you're studying. If you study best while wearing your pajamas and munching on snacks, own it! If you work best in complete silence, find a great study spot and snag it early. If you need certain materials, like lots of white paper, or a giant bottle of tea next to you while you study, prepare them ahead of time! Everybody has individual preferences while studying, so to make the entire studying experience as efficient and enjoyable as possible, get in your comfort zone. For most people, this can mean wearing comfortable clothing, finding a nice location, and listening to their favorite music. This will enable you to just focus on studying, not on whether the room is too warm or you're thirsty.
  • Sleep: I cannot stress this enough, because not getting enough sleep during Reading Week can take away from all the studying you're doing during the day. The point of Reading Week is so students can make most of not having classes and have extended periods devoted to studying. That being said, there really is no reason that you should not be sleeping 8 hours a day during Reading Week. Even if you're feeling panicked about your final exams, that shouldn't mean you should be studying for 20 hours straight, sleeping for a few hours, then returning to studying. Sleep is important for retaining all that knowledge, so though it may be an overlooked part of the finals season, it is one of the most important.
  • Make a plan: By now, you should know your finals schedule, and along with that, I recommend making a study schedule and setting deadlines for certain tasks. If you're not big planner like me, at the very least, you should have an idea of your goals over the next few days. Are there any subjects that you can finish studying by the time of your first exam? Will you study one subject in its entirety and move onto the next subject, or study for all your classes in small spurts over Reading Week? Which subjects are your hardest and therefore will need to spend more time studying for? Does the order of your final exams mean you can save some studying for after Reading Week? These kind of questions are important to maximizing the time you have until the exam and increasing your studying efficiency. This kind of prioritization and organization is also extremely important to not being overwhelmed by the amount of work. Whenever I make a list of the most important things I need to do, I feel better and can immediately start tackling the list.

These kind of habits are healthy to develop before and while you're taking your final exams. Above all, just breathe and don't be overwhelmed. Just remember, the breaks Best of luck to everybody on their finals! Please stay healthy and warm!

If you have questions or comments please email your Peer Advisers at:


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