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How to Lose Your Head During Finals

December 3, 2014

by: Nicole Hoffman

1201624865_fWith exam week approaching, I feel the tension and stress caused by upcoming papers, tests, projects, and presentations. As a junior, I have some experience with this very stressful time. Around this time last year, I had two papers, a portfolio, a project, and a presentation haunting me. It was torture researching for multiple papers and preparing presentations, simultaneously. Unfortunately, I lost my head in a less graceful way than the Cheshire Cat pictured above.

Here are some ways that I lost my mind and a few time management tricks to keep you from losing yours!

  • Prioritizing Inefficiently
    • I lost my head by prioritizing then deviating from my plan. I decided that one research paper was most important, and I left my second paper on the back burner. The result was being over-prepared for one assignment and not even having thought about the second paper until two days before it was due.
    • DO: Prioritize
      • The best method for prioritizing is looking at the due dates on the syllabus. As the dates get closer, try to research for both papers, simultaneously. For example, one day research for your British Literature class and the next day research for Biology. Giving priority to both research projects will prevent your head from accidentally falling off, and your professors will thank you.
  • Planner Obsessing and Procrastinating 
    • I love checking my planner. I look months in advance to attempt to prepare early, but I still procrastinate! Last year, I procrastinated on one of my assignments until the last minute because it was “just” a portfolio. I was literally rushing to my professor’s office to turn it in the minute it was due. Here is my advice on assessing your planner without obsessing and potentially procrastinating.
    • Daily Lists and Plans:
      • Look at what is due within approximately the next two weeks. It is important to be aware of projects and papers due at the end of the semester, too, but try not to focus on those due dates until their proper time. By planning accordingly and making a list of daily goals, you will keep your head and, hopefully, complete your projects in a timely manner.
  • alice_in_wonderland_1951_1Distracting Yourself
    • When I have music playing, a talkative study partner, or my Facebook tab pulled up, it is very easy to become distracted. Unfortunately, studying with other people all night long is often not the best way to prepare for an exam or write a paper. Taking breaks will help limit distractions during study time.
    • Consciously Take Breaks
      • Have a time during your study sessions to take a break. Get a coffee, look at Facebook, and then get back to work. Fifteen-minute breaks are sufficient during long study sessions, but sometimes we need to take a long deserved break. Tailor the time limit to your needs, and study happy!
  • Keeping Assignments To Yourself
    • Sometimes I turn in papers or projects that have minor errors like spelling, typos, and commas. Other times I turn in papers with major errors, like poor organization, insufficient supporting evidence, or lack of analysis. The best way to avoid these minor and major errors is to share your work.
    • Visit the University Writing Center
      • Peer review is one of the best ways to review your work. A peer reviewer is a friend, parent, classmate, and/or Writing Center consultant. It is beneficial to have a low stakes review session before turning in a final draft. In this type of session, we are less self-conscious about our writing, we are more apt to listen to suggestions, and we know that we will not be graded. What better circumstances are there?

DisneyCheshireCatListed above are five ways to surely lose your head during exam week and how to avoid these common pitfalls. So, do as I say, not as I do, and hopefully we’ll all get through exams intact. Stay warm, stay healthy, and good luck during the final weeks of the semester!

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