Confusion Corner: The haunting specter of finals

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December 3, 2010

1:29 AM

It’s everyone’s favorite time of the semester: Finals a time when Swem becomes a campground, academic buildings become refugee camps and dorms become ghost towns. It’s a time when “forty percent of your final grade” starts to sound like an awful lot, and “most of the semester” starts to sound like a long time not to have gone to class. Extensions are asked for, exams are moved and bargains with God are made. This time of year is not for the faint of heart, but with a few smart tips and little bit of luck (read: controlled substances), you, too, can survive the specter of finals.

The most important thing is to find a study spot that works for you. Well, I take that back. The most important thing is claiming and holding on for dear life to a study spot that works for you. We’ve all seen the tents and sleeping bags in Swem, but if you really want to pass that Introduction to Really Hard Science class you’ve skipped all semester (Williamsburg has a Chipotle now; no one blames you), you need to put down roots in a great spot. In academic buildings, this may mean refusing to vacate, even for professors with scheduled classes. In Swem, you may have to take a human life. Outside, presumably, there may be raccoons. Regardless, when you find that sweet spot, stick to it. It may be the only friend who won’t betray you when the finalspocalypse comes.

Studies have shown that if you stimulate a specific sense with a specific stimulus while studying, then replicate that same stimulus during the actual test, you tend to score better. For most people, that means chewing the same brand of spearmint gum while studying and testing. But you, Mr. or Mrs. “I Don’t Need To Go To Class Because It’s Raining,” may need to take more extreme measures. I’m talking same shirt, same shoes, same underwear. Happened to be debating politics with your roommate while studying for your calculus final? You’d better bring him or her along to antagonize you while you sweat it out in Jones Hall. Were you fooling around with your significant other while you were supposed to be learning ancient Greek archaeology? I’ll refrain from making a “column” joke here, but you’d better start thinking of excuses for having a naked companion with you during your exam. Sure, gum might be easier, but come on — who doesn’t want a naked test buddy?

And finally, please, remember to relax. Take time to unwind amidst your studying and panicking and geeking. Whether you hang out with friends, go to the Recreation Center, or enjoy your favorite controlled substance, find your escape from the stress of finals. Just remember: make sure you come back from your happy place in time to get to your exam.

Friends, Romans, countrygriffins: Finals are tough for everyone. No one enjoys them, and if they do, I want them dead. For all the upperclassmen, remember the triumphant and glorious feeling of leaving your last exam for the semester last year and keep your mind’s eye on that prize. Freshmen, you’ll just have to trust me that the world does go on after finals. And if you do fail your economics exam and flunk out of life, at least, you’ll have plenty of awesome memories of fights, sex and drugs during finals week.

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