A senior’s perspective on how to really survive finals

Survival of the finals: how to crush your exams like a boss and live to tell the tale

Written By Beth Turnbull, Social Media Coordinator

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My first finals week I read the entirety of “Memoirs of a Geisha,” visited art museums, went to numerous brunches and spent hours listening to Christmas music. I wanted to spend as much time with my friends as possible before being away from them for a month (our breaks were a month back then, sorry freshman).

The academic hell-scape I imagined as finals week didn’t scare me as a first-semester freshman. All I had to do was turn in a couple of papers and meet with a professor or two? No biggie. 

But that was a long time ago. As I look toward my very last finals week, life looks a little different, thankfully.

While some things haven’t changed – like professors assigning everything to be due the week before finals to “lighten your load” while actually just making your stress arrive a week earlier – I’d like to think that after seven semesters I have a pretty good idea of what to expect out of the academic hurdle of
finals week.

So, grab a snack and get ready for these hot tips for a successful and less-stressful finals week.

Getting a B (or even a C) on a test is better than pulling an all-nighter. 

Putting your body through extreme physical stress will not help you and you know it. Start studying a little each day at least a week before your exam. We all know by now that cramming never works. If you don’t understand the material by midnight, you won’t at three a.m. I’m sure some of you Red Bull fanatics will disagree with me, but you won’t change my tune. Just go to sleep. And no, coffee won’t save you.

Have a long paper? Block quotes are your
best friend.

Writing a ten-pager this finals week? A 20-pager? Oh God, a dissertation? Block quotes are your best friend. Use as many of those four or more line bad boys as you can get away with and watch your word count rise like nobody’s business. Having a hard time finding sources? Email or instant message one of our stellar librarians and they’ll send you all the JSTOR links your little heart can handle. This has truly saved me more times than I can count. God bless the library.

Celebrate the little victories and big defeats. I know you don’t care but Joan Baez (queen and music legend) said that, and she was wise in
doing so. 

Finals week might not be the smoothest journey for you, that’s okay. Finally finished that project? Go out with your friends, I hear there are a few new holiday bars in town. Got a C in your Western Civilization class and know you don’t have to take it again? Give yourself a pat on the back. You passed. All you can do is your best so be proud of that, even if your best is a C in microeconomics. 

Enjoy being in the mecca that is Pittsburgh.

Before you go back to your hometown, which I’m sure is charming in its own special way, enjoy your city surroundings. Go see the Christmas trees. Ice skate at PPG. See the gingerbread houses at the Wintergarden. See a show at the Benedum. Cheer on the Penguins. Catch a classic movie at Row House

Visit one of the several museums we get into for free. Revel in the fact that you can walk anywhere you need to go. Take in the culture. Use those student discounts. Go out to that new restaurant. Pittsburgh has a lot to offer, especially this time of year. And I promise you, you won’t get tired of it even as you face

As I head into my seventh and very final finals week, I can’t help but feel melancholy. My time at Point Park has included the best moments of my young adult life so far. The emotional hills and valleys that come with getting a college education have made me stronger, smarter –  more confident. I feel prepared to live a full and engaging life. I’ve made amazing friends, become a more self-assured professional and learned valuable skills in the realm of life balance. 

It’s not all sunshine and roses. College can really test you sometimes, but you should seek to cherish your time here, even finals. Sooner than you can imagine, you’ll be hauling yourself to a nine to five career, paying all your own bills and wishing you could be studying with your
friends again. 

So enjoy your finals, keep your head up and remember – doing your best is always enough. 

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