Ten tips for the finals frontier

The week before finals is a week of stress. The taste of freedom makes even the most dedicated of students giddy. The temptation to slack off is all too strong. It’s during times like these that you need a voice of wisdom to sanction your choices. Should you skip that mandatory study session your professor scheduled at the last minute? Should you join your less academically inclined roommates in a club-hopping free-for-all the night before your organic chemistry final? Should you give your professor the single-finger salute when he reprimands you for talking while he is talking?

Of course, the answer to all of the above is a resounding “no,” but you’d be surprised how many students manage to make poorer decisions than Homer Simpson the week before finals. The following list should clarify some things for those who are confused or temporarily blinded by the proverbial light at the end of the semester.

No. 10: Don’t sell back books that will be used on your final exam.

Although it may be tempting to collect an extra $5 for the marine biology textbook you paid $125 for, you’ll find yourself feeling swindled twice – especially when you see a D- grade on OASIS.

No. 9: Go to class.

The week before finals is crucial. Whatever information wasn’t disseminated in the period after the mid-term will most likely be covered now. Utilize this time to ask your instructor in-depth questions regarding your final. Who knows? You may be pleasantly surprised to find out you are responsible for less material than you thought. Or you may have skipped one class too many and may find yourself playing catch up. Whatever the case may be, it beats the chill of nervousness down your spine when you sit down to take an exam you’re not prepared for.

No. 8: Do not aggravate your instructor.

This may seem like one of the most obvious activities to avoid; however, it must be mentioned. The week before finals is your last opportunity to make a good impression on your professors. If you haven’t been working toward that the entire semester, this is your last opportunity to make sure your professors can match your face with your name and not grimace when they do.

No. 7: Buy a student ID card and gather your pencils, pens, blue books, etc.

Although it doesn’t bode well for someone who has spent a whole semester without a student ID, final exam week is definitely the week you want to have your ID ready. Many professors require that students bring their IDs to the final exam in order to eliminate cheating. Showing up for an exam without the proper materials is an embarrassment to you and proof of laziness to your instructor.

No. 6: Take the time to prepare yourself for finals this week.

Clean out your book bag, your notebooks and your binders. If you’re not well organized, this may be the time to fake it until you make it. Find your notes, and get them into at least a semblance of an order. Round up all your pencil stubs, pick out the best three – you know, the ones with good erasers – and put them aside with your loose-leaf or blue book. Throw out leaky pens and buy new ones. Check your calculator or Palm Pilot to be sure it is in working order.

No. 5: If possible, table all heated discussions, roommate issues and lovers’ spats for two weeks.

You need a clear mind to focus on the nuances of renaissance art – or anything else for that matter. If you’re mulling over the salient points you made in last night’s argument over whose turn it was to take out the garbage, your mind is obviously unclear and unfocused.

No. 4: After you’ve reconciled with your significant other or reached a compromise with your roommates, someone is going to suggest that you skip studying and throw yourself into some frivolous activity to prove your commitment to the relationship. Don’t do it.

After all, when you do badly on your final, your significant other will be the one to blame. As for your roommates: Without a doubt, one of them will get drunk and say something stupid or leave his or her dishes in the sink the next day and the detente will be over. It’s not worth it. Gently explain that this is the week before finals and you have much to prepare for. Throw in some phrases such as “gotta keep my 4.0” for good measure. And if they still don’t get it, remember: You can repair their wounded feelings with some creativity, but a bad grade you didn’t earn can’t be lived down as easily.

No. 3: Read your syllabi.

Find out the weight of your final exam in relation to your final grade. Often, your final counts for 20 percent or more of your grade. You want to know this kind of information before the exam. If your final is an essay, your syllabus generally is the place to look for guidelines that will help you write it.

No. 2: Give notice to your boss, your roommates, your parents – everyone you can think of.

Let them know that your education is important to you and that this week is the crux of all the hard work you’ve done this semester. Make sure you aren’t working at the same time your final is scheduled. Arrange a buddy system with your roommates so you don’t oversleep during those midnight study breaks. Let your parents know it’s not a good idea to call you so much this week.

No.1: Know the dates, times and places of all your finals.

Write this information down and post it in several prominent spots. You can’t take the exam if you don’t know where it is being held.

It’s as important to end the semester on a good note as it is to begin on a good note. Take the week before finals seriously. Don’t think your grade is in the bag until you’ve prepared for and passed the test.