I write with some end-of-term tips in the hopes that they make this next week or so a bit easier. As the term comes to a close, please remember to take care of yourselves, be considerate (you might not have anything due until Thursday, but the person who lives next door might have something due in three hours, etc.), and try to plan out your time in a semi-structured way so as to avoid doing too little or too much. I therefore offer some words of advice:
Part One: Exams and Final Papers as Life Experiences
1. Keep perspective: The term will soon be over. Repeat to yourself often: “I can do it.” “”I will write a paper that will blind my instructor with its dazzling brilliance.” “This course will soon be behind me and I will be sleeping late//on my way to Europe, San Francisco, New Jersey/starting my internship, etc.”
Find the way and place you study best and the way that works for you. Do not compare yourself to others. Consider using the Pomodoro Method for short bursts of time and give yourself breaks.
- Take a break every day and know when and what it will be. Get a venti half-caf soy iced caramel macchiato. Call home.
- Get some sleep. The number one reason for poor exam performance is lack of sleep.
- Be an active, engaged learner. Try to predict what the instructor will ask on the exam and spend time with your classmates discussing the material; research indicates that you can absorb (and apply) material in a deeper way by actively discussing it. Find someone to study with you who will not distract you the entire time but will keep you motivated.
- Eat fruits and vegetables, avoid scurvy.
8. Keep in mind the big picture of the course, its major themes. Exams are the occasion for you to pull together in a coherent way what you have learned.
Avoid studying in your room—this is where you sleep, hang out, etc. It can a time management disaster waiting to happen if you study there as well.
- Give yourself false deadlines for papers, use the Writing Workshop and friends for peer review, read over the paper (even talk it through).
Part Two: You’re in this together
1. Be thoughtful of the stress of others and their study needs (i.e., don’t play death metal at 4 a.m. on Tuesday).
- Know if your roommate should be awake. Help each other remember when exams are and use multiple alarms and don’t rely on one phone that might not be fully plugged in.
Get up an hour or more before the exam starts to wake up sufficiently, eat breakfast (or lunch/dinner) and gather your thoughts.
And last: You belong here. It is difficult, but you will be fine. A demanding college demands hard work.
So, believe in yourself, and know that I believe in you, too.