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November 30, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 39°F

BlogsWhat I Wish I Knew…

What is your experience with finals?

Finals can be the most stressful time of year for a college student anywhere. From last-minute assignments to finish, to planning out how to attack the many, many tasks you have during finals week, trying to navigate this time is difficult for everyone no matter their year. As a senior in my second to last finals season, there have been a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way that have made this week a little less painful and stressful than it already will be. First things first, establish some sort of schedule or plan for how you want to attack all of your assignments. For me, much of my work is centered around research papers, so I like to plan out a starting phase, an editing phase (if necessary) and a finishing touches stage in my schedule. Doing this allows me to keep on a strict schedule to get things done so that they do not pile up on each other causing more stress for me. 

If I have a traditional, written test, I like to make a study schedule where I break down the topics that I need to know into three or four days of studying. Let’s say the test covers five units that have occurred over the semester, I would first look to find the units that I had the most trouble with and give them the most attention when planning out my study schedule. So if unit three happened to be the hardest, I would take the first two days to go over unit three, then from there assign the next hardest unit and so on. 

Within this system and the last one, I like to also incorporate a timed aspect so that I can stay on task and reward myself with a break without going off task. The Pomodoro Technique has been the easiest and most effective timing tool for me. It allows me to set a goal with a reasonable amount of time to go on my phone, make a snack or just sit and relax. The Pomodoro Technique uses four 25-minute work periods with a five minute break between each. Once you finish the first four, you are able to get a longer 15-minute break which is great to stretch your legs or go for a walk. There are tons of apps and websites that you can use to time yourself, or you can simply use your phone or clock to time out the intervals. 

Making sure you are balancing your time working and time relaxing during finals is incredibly vital to your success when you start to approach the end of finals week. I know in my first year here I was so concerned about just studying that I burnt myself out and was in a position where I didn’t want to study or finish up any projects that I had. Not only is time management and a schedule important for success in finals, but understanding that while this might be the most stressful time of the year, it’s not the end all be all. 

A lot of college is centered around our academic success, so finals can seem as if the weight of the entire world is on your shoulders. Grades tie directly back to feelings of validation and in some cases can affect our financial aid. I know a lot of professors, parents and mentors will say this, but what you get on your finals isn’t indicative of all of the hard work and time you spent studying or working on assignments. I have never tested well, so going into finals I always knew that my performance on the test was not entirely reflective of the hard work that I had put in throughout the semester. Finals can be a stressful time for any student, but by working to plan out your week and giving yourself enough breaks, you can find a way to survive the finals rush and stress. 

Alyssa Spady can be reached at aspady@ithaca.edu