The Times West Virginian

Daily Grind

May 18, 2009

The finals frontier

Surviving seven days of stress

Finals.

Seven days that could make or break your semester. A botched final could drop your grade a letter or worse and a particularly brilliant exam could be the boost your GPA needs after a less-than-impressive semester. It’s no surprise that finals are a stressful time for students. But instead of cramming and staying up for several days straight, guzzling taurine and swilling caffeine, the key to success during finals week is how you handle that stress.

“Finals can be very stressful. You feel like that there’s lot to lose,” said Paul Lindsay, West Virginia University junior. “Your grades could all drop after finals week.”

A popular way to handle the tightly-packed gauntlet of tests is to cram. Most students average four to six finals during finals week, leaving them with few options other than to pack their studying time in the span of a few days.

“Freshman year I had all my finals on the same day,” said Brandon Doss, WVU senior. “It wasn’t that bad because they were freshman, entry-level classes and it was nice to get them all out of the way at once, but it was a hell of a Sunday-Monday-Tuesday.”

Although one might assume that studying the day before a test would keep the information fresh in one’s memory, studies have shown that the brain is able to retain information longer if studying is spread out over time. Nonstop studying can leave your mind foggy, so a 15-minute break every two hours can go a long way in keeping your mind sharp.

Worse yet, cramming is only a short-term memory aid. That may be fine for the finals, but if you take a class later on that builds on that material, then you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage.

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