November Panic

Exams aren't far off: How to prepare for success

If you need help, ask for it. Don't be too proud to go to someone you know (or don't, there is a tutoring center) for help. You're only cheating yourself if you give away an opportunity for success.
If you need help, ask for it. Don’t be too proud to go to someone you know (or don’t, there is a tutoring center) for help. You’re only cheating yourself if you give away an opportunity for success.
It’s the time of the semester when everyone looks at their calendar and realizes “Crap, it’s November.”

Final exams sit a little over a month away. There’s a half-week off for Thanksgiving. The first semester is winding to a close.

If I know most of you, you’re panicking. I like to call it “November Panic.”

It’s a crazy phenomenon. One night you’re partying it up on Halloween, and then you wake up on Monday morning and hear Christmas music on the radio.

This month is, in the words of Ferris Hockey public address announcer Jason Daday, “Crrrrrrrrrrunch Time!”

The only difference is you’re not on your feet. Or cheering. You get to book a room at the library for the next few weeks and panic your way through exam studying or term paper writing.

For those of you that are new to this, it’s not actually that bad.

Here are a few steps to going home in mid-December with a smile on your face, based on my experience getting no lower than an 88 on a final exam in two years of college.

Step one: Start now. You don’t need to cram. It’s been well documented that cramming does not work in the long run. Your brain can only process so much at once.

Step two: Kick one of your party nights off the books. If you go out Thursday-Saturday, take Thursday night as a study night. I know you’ll be bummed the few times you don’t go out, but you’ll be more bummed to see a 60 percent on your exam.

Step three: Schedule out your study time. Pick one to two hour segments maybe three times a week over the first week, four times over the second week and five to six (vary per major, I know you forensic biology majors probably need to segment in day-long sessions) the last week. Notice that’s scheduled three weeks out from exams. Not the night before, not two months out.

Step four: Reward yourself. I’m like a puppy. I expect a treat when I get done. For me, that treat is Nutella. I would lock my jar of Nutella away until I got a certain amount done. It takes discipline, believe me, I nearly hit one of my roommates that stood between me and my jar of Nutella, but I did it.

Deprive yourself of something you love, and take it only when you accomplish something.

Step five: Sleep. I repeat, sleep. I am a former athlete (emphasis on former) and the most important night of sleep in preparation for competition is the night before the night before.

Example: I have an exam on a Wednesday. So I go to bed early on Monday. I know Tuesday night it will be hard to sleep because I’ll be nervous, so I get as much as I can on Monday night.

You need sleep. You’ll feel sharper on exams when you have plenty of it.

Step six: Eat well. That doesn’t necessarily mean eat healthy. I knew a kid that needed to chug a Coke before swimming because he was convinced it worked for him. It would have made me puke, but it worked for him. Eat what works for you, and eat plenty of it. If you believe in it, it will work.

More than the food itself it’s the belief that the food will work for you that helps. Any sort of belief you can get in your corner will help, even if it’s as innocuous as eating skittles.

Step seven (optional): Pray to every religious/famous figure you know. I do it out of superstition. It works for me because I believe it works for me. I’ve yet to figure out which one is helping me, but I have narrowed it down to the fact that there’s a chance Bill Murray is looking out for me in his infinite wisdom.