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The weather is finally getting better, Low Beach is popping, and the fertilizer smells terrible. Midterms just ended, but it feels like we had a millisecond of a break to enjoy the sun before the dread starts to build again. Yes, it’s that time of the semester again. The terrible f-word that everyone loves to hate: finals. But fear not. Spectrum is here to alleviate the pain of finals season with five tips to stay afloat during the next few weeks.

Start now

If you ask most students what their biggest regret during final season is, the answer will be procrastination. Finals don’t start for at least another two weeks for most classes, so use this time wisely. Definitely take time to enjoy the nice weather and plan a fun outing to look forward to, but use this week to get a head start on the work you find most stressful. If you’re most worried about your American Politics class or your final project for sociology, begin with that. Dedicate at least a few hours a day to sitting with the material and understanding the concepts. Start taking down a list of questions or concepts that are unclear, so you can bring it up in the last few classes. If you have a paper to write, go through the readings, formulate an argument, and start making an outline. If you have a big p-set due, revisit the topic, and do a few problems a day. Browse through the textbooks when you’re chilling on Low Steps or the South Lawn. These may seem like small steps, but they will help you keep your workload manageable and reduce future stress.

Attend review sessions

If you haven’t gone to office hours even once this semester, it isn’t too late to go (trust us, we know). Collect all your queries, come ready with concepts that need special attention, and schedule a time you can meet with your professor or TA outside of class. Office hours tend to be especially useful during finals because other students may have questions about the final that you didn’t know you had. Sitting and listening in can sometimes be as useful as a one-on-one session with your professor. If office hours aren’t your style, try group study. Scour your college Facebook pages, or stay back after class and talk to others to organize a study group. The informal setting may help you feel more comfortable voicing questions you were too nervous to articulate in class. Exchanging study guides, flashcards, or working on a p-set together will only strengthen your understanding of core concepts. Lastly, attend review sessions that your TA or professor may organize before finals. Even if they start at 9 a.m. They may hand out important worksheets or give you tips about what to expect for the exam. Also, look out for the end-of-the-semester review sessions organized by RHLO for classes like Lit Hum, General Chemistry, calculus, and FroSci.


Take time to file all your worksheets, collate your notes, organize any online materials, clean up your Google Drive, and print out any readings you know you will need for the next few weeks. Once you have all your materials, annotate, highlight, and use Post-it notes (optional) to organize your work if you are a visual learner. If there is a particular concept that you know is hard to grasp, highlight it and take notes until you feel like you understand it. That way, when you revisit it, you can just read your annotations, instead of struggling through all of the materials again. One tip we recommend, especially if you’re one of those people who find themselves easily overwhelmed and procrastinating, is to make a finals schedule and block out your times for studying, relaxing, eating, AND sleeping. Reading week doesn’t need to be all stress.

Test yourself

Re-visit old midterms and in-class quizzes. Annotate and highlight your mistakes. Go back to the questions you missed, re-learn the concept, and test yourself again. Getting it right the second time will be a good boost to your confidence. If the professor has given you a practice final, do it under normal exam conditions. Clear your desk, remove all distractions, time yourself, and do the exam. Take a break and score yourself afterwards. This will reassure you on the actual day of the test. Check out sites like Quizlet, a great resource to test your memory on key terms/concepts, for easy testing help.

Get some rest

This is the most important tip. If you’re not rested, hydrated, and healthy, none of the above will matter. Keep drinking water, take study breaks, sit in the grass, talk to your friends, and eat at regular intervals. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep, if possible, so you can be productive during the day, and don’t go crazy on the caffeine. If you’re feeling particularly hopeless or uninspired, a simple hot shower or quick run in the park can do wonders. Take care of yourself, and happy finals!

Staff writer Naina Lavakare can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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