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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Academics & Research

Students offer strategies for surviving finals


Some students, like Jilliana Colina, have mastered the art of studying and acing exams, while others have a lot of adapting to do this finals season. | Andrew Jones/The Cougar

Students all over the country are gathering around tables, uncapping their highlighters and undergoing the arduous task of studying for finals.

The official finals week at the University of Houston is Dec. 7 through 13, but for many students, preparation for this period may as well be year-round.

Corporate communications senior Jilliana Colina is balancing a six-course load and an internship at KPRC-TV, but she said the key to getting through the stressful time is remembering why you started and what you want to achieve.

“Keep your end goal in mind,” Colina said.

Electronic devices can become barriers for students trying to focus on important assignments, so Colina sticks to a guiding principle: Put modern tools away when it’s time to get serious.

After taking semester after semester of finals, Colina is no stranger to the heightened demand exams place on students. Her keys to success involve snacks, taking time to relax and using her breaks as opportunities to hang out with friends, she said.

Although Colina values the relief that study-breaks afford leading up to the end of the semester, she isn’t immune to the trappings of cramming. 

She thinks the primary cause of that is the week-long Thanksgiving break just before many finals are given. Many students simply take it as time off to enjoy themselves, she said.

While some balance jobs and change their eating and sleeping habits on the way to reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, others are just taking their first steps toward graduation without knowing what to expect.

Pre-med freshman Syed Ahmad sees the college-level finals process as a completely different league compared to his high school experience. Studying last minute and even cramming a semester’s worth of information the night before may have passed in high school, but it just doesn’t work in college, Ahmad said.

Instead he’s developed a strategy to divide the material he needs to study into more manageable portions to avoid the stress of not having enough time to cover all that’s required. Even as a freshman, Ahmad said that the resources like practice exams in Blackboard are indispensable.

As a Muslim student, Ahmad’s personal method of stress relief involves prayer, he said. He also breaks up long periods of studying by socializing and taking advantage of the many events the University provides to help students relieve stress.

Not all students experience the pressure of finals.

John Nacar, a supply chain management senior, said setting priorities is the most important step in staying organized. He said he takes a methodical approach to his finals and doesn’t let the stress affect him. His tool for being thorough is to know which exams come first and study accordingly, he said.

His advice for students entering the University, or further along on their way to completion, is straightforward.

“Don’t slack off,” Nacar said. 

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