The collective hell known as finals week rapidly approaching and if we aren’t careful, some of us won’t make it out alive. For those of you that are stellar students, who stay in some weekends to study and ‘get ahead,’ I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the rest of you, the majority I would assume, who worked hard this semester but played just a little bit harder and now the terror of finals is steadily starting to sink in. The realization that there is a distinct possibility that you may not be able to pass all your finals is hitting you and you are wondering if there is even enough Adderall on the planet to save your grade. I get it, I understand the fear. But after 7 semesters of panic-inducing finals, I have 11 tips guaranteed to help you pass all your finals.
1. Calculate Your Current Grades
First thing first, you need to figure out where the fuck you stand in each and every single one of your classes. Every teacher is required to put a grade breakdown on the syllabus so collect your entire graded material, figure out how much different things are weighted, and get an exact, current grade. When faced with possible failing grades, some people like to remain in the dark and just pretend like their C minus in physics doesn’t exist. DO NOT DO THIS. Face the facts and face your grades.
2. Decide What Final Grade You Can Accept
We’ve all heard the phrase “C’s get degrees” but for some people, C’s aren’t option. Whether you’re pre-med, on scholarship, or on academic probation, sometimes you need to do better than that. If you need a 2.5 to stay in your program and you are only at a 2.53, you don’t have the luxury of passing certain classes with a C. After you get a handle on where you stand in each of your classes, you need to decide what grades you can bare minimum get in each class.
3. Calculate A Passing Grade On The Final
Again, refer to the syllabus and see how much the final is actually worth. At this point, you know your current grade and you know the bare minimum grades you can accept for all your classes. Now, figure out exactly what you need on your final to get that grade. Finals are just a game of stats where every little point and percent helps so you need to know exactly what you need.
4. Prioritize Your Classes
For those of you who are about to go through your first set of finals and are still delusional enough to think that you can get straight A’s, let me give you the biggest piece of advice possible; not all of your classes are created equally. A’s in your major are ten times more important than an A in a bullshit diversity requirement. If your overall GPA is a 2.6 but your in-major GPA is a 3.8, you will have absolutely no problem getting a job. After you separate major classes from the rest, further prioritize your finals. That class you’re doing the worst in, but also need to get at least a B+ in? Yep, prepare to dedicate all of your time to learning the material you were too hungover to absorb the first time around.
5. Make A Schedule
Write down when each and every final is and then schedule around that. Hopefully you all have at least a week before your own personal hell begins so that gives you plenty of time. For the next week to two weeks, sleep is not important. Drinking is not important. Being a social person is not important. Hell, even your sorority is not important. For these last couple weeks, all that matters is scheduling time to study so you can pass.
6. Schedule Appointments With Your Teachers
Teachers notice if you are making an extra effort. For the classes you are really worried about, email your teachers and schedule times to meet and get help. Take advantage of extended office hours and show that you are putting in the work. Sometimes teachers will be willing to bump you up a couple points or be more lenient with grading if they see how hard you’re working. You can’t bank on this for grades, but when every little bit helps, make sure you are taking advantage of everything.
7. Get Help From Friends
If you know people that have previously taken the same class, talk to them about what the final was like. What you should expect, how the questions are phrased, important things to know. All of this is vital in preparing for finals. Having an old copy of the final is obviously the best option, but if that’s not possible, knowing what to expect is the next best option.
8. Get (Some) Sleep
You’re not going to get 8+ hours of sleep a night during finals week. It’s just not possible. But you still need some sleep to function. In regards to studying, pulling all-nighters before a final is never the best option. Your body needs sleep. Strive for at least 5 hours the night before. You still might be tired but trust me, those extra 2 or 3 hours of studying are not going to break your grade.
9. Don’t Leave Studying Until The Night Before
This is college. I don’t care how smart you are, you can’t learn or relearn an entire semester’s worth of material at midnight for an 8 a.m. exam, especially not if you have hopes of doing better than just simply passing. Depending on how complex the material is and whether the final is cumulative or not, you should try to give yourself at least 2 or 3 days of prep time.
10. If You Leave Studying For The Night Before, Study Smarter Not Harder
So, you fucked up. You waited until the very last minute to start studying and now you’re screwed. Before you freak out, take a breath. Contrary to popular belief, you can do okay on your finals if you study the night before. You probably won’t get an A, but you’ll pass, and if that’s all you need, follow this method: study smarter, not harder.
Use what time you have wisely. Instead of trying to read an entire book in one night, pick out a few important chapters. Really pay attention and absorb the information in those chapters, and if you have time at the end, go over the other ones. It’s better to have a full of understanding of at least half of the material than to have little to no understanding of all the material, which is what would happen if you tried to accomplish all of it in one night. You’ll probably get at least half of the questions right and if you make educated guesses on the other ones, you’ll end up somewhere in the realm of passing. You’re welcome.
11. Eat Healthy
You may think the best way to get energy is through coffee or Adderall, and while they are both great, another important factor is your eating habits. It may seem easy to just eat Chipotle, taco bell, and shitty cafeteria food all finals week, but that is the worst for you. Coupled with your decreased sleep, that kind of food makes you sluggish and tired. Even if it’s just for this week only, try to eat lean meats, lots of green veggies, and plenty of fruits. Save all the shit food for the holiday parties post finals week. .