A compilation of random and interesting things, musings, musics, videos, and more. Brought to you by a UChicago student with a penchant for procrastination.

Friday, March 9, 2007

How To Survive Finals

Good morning dedicated readers. As you may have noticed, I've been absent from the blog for a while - yet never fear, thankfully Finals are almost over and spring break will finally give me the time I need to clean up my backlog of old drafts and bloggable bits of the web.

So why have I been so preoccupied you might ask? Well ... it's finals week, and staring at a Neuroscience text for 12 hours straight in various small enclosures (cubicles, study rooms, etc) is rather harrowing!

Of course, this might be a rather appropriate time to segway into my involvement with the 'Where Fun Comes To Die' shirt sales at the University of Chicago (see right) ... but I think I think the fact that I still take that statement as a joke implies there is something inherently wrong with regard to the student body here, or else we all love self-deprecating attire. But hey, I'm all for profiting off of misery, so if you do want to buy a shirt or hoodie feel free to contact me. They're a great piece of UChicago tradition, and sold at prices that're way more affordable than any of the official bookstore swag.

Either way, this post is going to be devoted to my tips for surviving finals week - and as a U of C student you'd better believe they're worth something ... (something more than the procrastinative value I got from taking random photos in the midst of studying, that is)

First, check to see where you are in terms of the Agnes Review Inventory:
- read through class resources & the text
- take notes on these (hopefully in class)
- then to review, look through the notes, paring down information into key processes, definitions and diagrams ... yes, essentially taking notes of your notes!

Next, make sure you have these notes, reading materials, class resources (power points, lector notes, etc) in order. Organizing things by date or topic is a good way to go as it allows you to focus in on specific areas of the topic! Even though it takes a bit longer and may makes your desktop look a bit cluttered, this method is really great for moving from a wast swath of knowledge into bit sized ways to review notes that can help you recall the big picture.

* Also, if you take and review notes on your computer, programs like Winroll become indispensable, as you can easily have many, many windows open but have them scaled down into just the title bar (a la Mac) - this makes switching between windows a breeze (and it looks cool, just look at that screen shot!)

And well ... what else can you do to study? I mean that is basically it. It just takes a lot of review and in some cases, a lot of cramming. But refreshing this material in your mind with the aid of notes and a lot of time is really the principal thing to do.

Actually forcing yourself to get into this mode of study is really the main thing you have to grapple with for this method to work. For some people, music helps move the process along - others find depriving themselves of any and all outside stimulus (thanks to libraries, cubicle-like desks, or study rooms) to be key. But this is going to differ for everyone ... I personally wound up sitting in a prison-like study room, but jamming to Royksopp

But regardless of where you study - if you are going for a cram session and know you're not going to be getting any sleep it is really important to have a plan and take periodic breaks. Have an outline of topics for review set up, and in between these topics try to do a little to take your mind off of the studying (make a snack, build up your caffeine levels, play some
Smash, or surf the web for a bit - just don't get distracted from your goal!) This is actually a good habit to get into (as long as it doesn't happen too frequently) as it lets your mind rest for a bit. When you get back to studying this is especially helpful as you can test yourself on how much of what you've just read actually retained (try to think back to the key words, or describe the process you just read about as thoroughly as possible). See, gaged procrastination can be good for you!

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