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Dec 25 2015
by Elaina Berkowitz

7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told me About My First Finals Week

By Elaina Berkowitz - Dec 25 2015

Finals are “super stressful!” but not really. I feel like I stressed more about the fact that I wasn’t stressed about finals than I actually stressed about the finals. That being said, I definitely learned a lot from my first finals week. It was a crazy time on campus and I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve for next semester’s hectic time.

1. Calm Down.

Staying calm is the key to finals week. There are things that happen to you, or to other people, or to in other places that give you the right to “freak out.” There are situations in which saying “just calm down” would not work. That being said, most things are not worth getting worked up about, including finals week. Especially considering the fact that I, like most freshmen, am only 19. Getting an A- instead of an A in Astronomy 101 is not going to make or break your career, life, or happiness. As a side note, that’s not to say come finals week you should not study because it “doesn’t matter.” You should totally work your butt off. I’m just saying that once it’s done, it’s done. You can’t go back, you can’t undo, and you can’t redo, so just calm down.

2. Pay Attention in Class.

I started studying about a week before finals. I didn’t wait until the last minute, but I feel like I could have started much earlier. My thought process kept being, “why didn’t I just pay attention and understand it in class?” I was able to teach myself things I missed in class, but it seemed like a lot more work than if I had just paid more attention in class. “I’ll figure it out later” or “I’ll get the notes I missed” were thoughts that ran through my head every time I zoned out during a lecture. If I could go back and do finals again, and I will, I would pay more attention the day I learn the material instead of having to re-learn it later.

3. Use Quizlet (more).

Quizlet is an online notecard maker and was my life through finals week. I used to be the type of person to write out flash cards for everything in high school. Organizing and breaking up your notes and information is a great way to learn the material. College is a lot different than high school, though, and I realized that I do not have the time to hand write every notecard. I understand the importance and benefit of hand writing in remembering information, but I needed to find a way to budget my time. I started using Quizlet and it was perfect. It’s really nice because other people can also add cards to your set. A lot of times I would, for example, make flashcards for chapters 1-3 and a friend would add flashcards from chapters 4-6. It’s very easy to use and advanced. Another benefit is that you can “star” cards that you find more difficult. Later on, you can go through and it will only display those tough cards. It’s another great way to budget your time and it helps you learn the more difficult words or definitions.

4. Find New Places to Study.

When I say “new places,” I don’t just mean going to the library instead of your room. I think a huge benefit of living on a campus is having an uncountable number of places to study. Changing your environment can boost your mood and keep you going throughout the day so you can study more. I suggest finding a coffee shop, lounge, or even a staircase to just sit and do some work and be in a new environment. I wish I found more places to study during finals week because the library became a little boring and ended up making me feel tired. 

5. Study with Friends.

When I say study with friends, I mean actually study. I know a lot of times when I try to get work done with friends, we end up getting super distracted pretty fast. If you stay focused, though, it can actually help you study a lot. Whenever I studied with friends, we would make up little songs or dances to help us remember the order of things or definitions. It was a nice break from studying alone, it was really fun, and it definitely helped me remember the material for the exam.

6. Eat Before You Study.

For me personally, I cannot study on an empty stomach. The thought of food usually ends up overcoming me while I’m trying to study. Eventually, I get distracted really fast and end up stopping to go eat food. It usually makes me even more distracted. I think the best thing to do to stay focused is to eat a big meal before you sit down the study. You won’t be hungry, so you won’t have your growling stomach distracting you from your notes. It’s also better to eat before you study so that you don’t stress eat during studying. If you’re stressed out, you might tend to eat less healthy food and more of it.

7. Stay Positive and Be Confident.

No matter how stressed you are, it’s important to be proud of what you’ve accomplished throughout the semester. You’ve already tackled so many obstacles, academically and socially, and it’s important to take time to recognize that when you’re feeling down about exams. You’ve worked super hard to get into college and you’ve worked super hard to keep up your grades during your first semester. This is the last hoorah, the FINAL countdown. It’s totally okay to be overwhelmed. Keep your head up no matter what’s on your plate during finals week because there’s a lot to be happy about. 

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Elaina Berkowitz - Syracuse University

“Elaina is a freshman at Syracuse University majoring in Advertising. She loves writing, watching The Office and dancing. Her favorite things are ice cream and Instagram. You can follow her on Twitter @Elaina_Berk and on Instragram @elainaberk!

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