TCU Daily Skiff Masthead
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Wednesday, December 4, 2002
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Advice to successfully navigate finals week
Chris Suffron

It is December and final exams are around the corner. Yes finals, those annoying things at the end of the semester that keep some of you from focusing all your attention on Christmas and the events that surround it. But as I enter my second to last round of finals with a yawn and a sigh, I realize that for first-year students, this is their first experience with finals at the collegiate level. So gather around you young ones, as the old man enlightens you on how to handle finals successfully.

First of all, you do need to study. I know that most of you, like me, completely blew off finals in high school and did not even open the book or look over notes, but that usually won’t work here. The amount of material is larger and the tests are harder.

So when do you start studying? I like to go with the rule of one. That means there should only be one day of studying for each test and it should be no more than one day away from the day of the test. This means that if you have a test on Monday, you do not start studying until Sunday. If two finals fall on one day like they usually do, you can push the studying for one back a day, but I do not recommend it. That puts too much time between the test and the studying. Usually if more than one test falls on the same day, one is either easier than the other or they are both easy.

This means that for freshmen, no studying should be done during dead days. All studying on those days should be done by pre-med majors and people with tests during dead days. Every year I see freshman wasting their days off for first semester college Spanish and Understanding the Bible and frankly, it saddens me.

So I know when to study, now how do I study? First of all, you must remember that you already know all the material because you have already been tested on it. In this fashion, finals are actually easier than normal tests. My philosophy is this: “Studying is not learning, it is making sure you already know.” Thus you should do things that test your knowledge and not put knowledge into your brain. Redo old tests. Answer questions at the end of the chapters. Quiz yourself over the subjects that you know will be on the test.

If the test is essay, write a sample essay. If it has you do problems, do some problems. DO NOT READ THE BOOK. You have already read the chapters, why would want to read them again? If you have not read the chapters, you have gotten this far without reading them, what makes you think you need to read them now? One thing you want to keep in mind is that you make sure to go over everything necessary. Nothing is worse than forgetting to review something and having it as an essay question.

Now we need to go over your state of mind going into the final. Most importantly, you need to relax. Remember, it is just a test. A test has absolutely no eternal ramifications at all. The worst thing that can happen is you get a lower grade in that class than you wanted. Secondly, do not go into the test hoping to get a good grade, but rather go into it expecting to do well. If you fear failure, failure is sure to come. However, if you expect to do well, you will do well.

Remember that you have prepared for everything on the test, there can be no surprises. All the nervous people around you make this hard to do, but you need to go into a test and tell it “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you kill my father, prepare to die,” and then proceed to beat the test to a pulp.

Well in the words of Sonoa Hensley, there you have it. It is the perfect outline on how to approach finals. Follow it and it will do you well. Believe me, it has not failed me yet.

Christopher Suffron is a senior accounting major from League City.


TCU Daily Skiff © 2003

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