The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


How to survive finals in 12 simple steps

Thanksgiving can be summed up in just a few words, all starting with the letter “F”: family, friends, food, feast, football, faith, fellowship, fun, fattening, festive, fragrant and familiar. The following day could well be described as a foolish frenzy of purchases. And now that we are back to school, we have friends, freezing weather, frothy mochas, four more days of class and finals.

Even with four years of college finals experience, I still feel like I have so much to learn and prepare before I can relax for the winter holiday. You probably had some good opportunities to study over Thanksgiving break. You probably didn’t take those opportunities. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Now is not the time to fret – it’s time to focus.

SMU and Dallas provide a lot of different resources for students to help them in this great time of need. Here are some helpful pieces of advice for studying this week.

• Write down the dates and times of all of your finals. You should be able to find this information in your course syllabus or you can check online at You don’t want to miss a final because you didn’t know where and when it was.

• Review your professor’s comments about the final. Most professors will provide a study guide of some kind. Make sure you know what you need to know.

• Ask your professor for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, go talk to him or her. They do want to help you succeed. If you are confused about something, don’t be afraid to e-mail, visit or call them. Most of them have e-mails and contact numbers listed on the course syllabus.

• Visit the LEC. They have so many resources available to you. Call ahead for appointments with the Writing Center.

• Find a good study location. Fondren Library is not the only library on campus. It’s also not the only place to study around campus. On the SMU campus, we also have Bridwell Library next to Perkins Chapel, Underwood Library, etc. Go explore and find a new place to study. Sometimes changing your study venue is helpful. Many coffee shops and bookstores offer free Wi-Fi. Here’s a list to start you off: Tempest Tea, Cafe Brazil, Orange Cup, Buzzbrews, Granat’s Cafe and Bakery, Freebirds, etc. At the Wesley House, we will be providing free snacks and Wi-Fi. Come by!

• Exercise. Go visit the Dedman Center when you need a break from studying. Working out is a great way to help you regain some focus.

• Eat. Make sure you are eating – and eating healthy. Your mind will only function as well as your body.

• Stay away from energy drinks. They are terrible for you. Try a cup of coffee or black tea in the morning before you start studying. During the day, try taking a nap or eating a small snack to help keep your metabolism going.

• Gain perspective. While only some classes are open notes or open book, you should try to summarize all of your course material on one page.

• Pace yourself. You obviously have a lot of studying and preparing ahead of you. Ideally, you should know exactly how much time you need to prepare for your finals. For example, you should know that you need to spend another two hours just rewriting all of your notes for an essay final in history. You probably will need to spend another two or three hours reviewing everything the night or day of that final.

• Plan ahead. Make sure you plan ahead heavily this week. Schedule in study breaks. Make sure you schedule in sleep before your finals. Don’t prepare and not actually make it to the final.

• Prioritize and focus. Think about what you really have to get done this week. Don’t let yourself become distracted by other things demanding your time and attention.

In case you do wind up missing a final, the best you can do is calm down and go talk to your professor. Many of them are willing to listen to your reasons and are willing to work with you. In case you do feel like you might sleep through a final, find a friend to keep you accountable. In fact, studying with a friend or a group of people is very beneficial if everyone plans to diligently study. This group can help you get through that o-chem mess or the ridiculous essay exam that you haven’t even started looking at. A group provides you an outlet to throw out ideas and gain some new perspective and notes on a class as well.

Finally, do take a moment to enjoy the festive decorations. Come out to Celebration of Lights on Dec. 7 at 7:00pm on the Main Quad. Grab some hot cocoa and walk or drive around the Park Cities looking at Christmas decorations. These are both great evening activities to help get you through the next two weeks. Whatever you choose to do with your time, make sure you make the most of it. You are almost finished with this semester. Good luck!

Daniel Liu is a graduate engineering management student. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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