During dead week last spring semester, I found myself bored and unsure of what to do. My boredom felt wrong and dangerous. I had felt the same thing in the preceding (fall) semester, but I didn’t want to lose my A’s this time because I messed up my final exams. So, since I had nothing to do, I strutted down to my academic counselor’s office and asked her, “I’m bored and I don’t know what to do. I know I should be studying, but I don’t feel like I need to study anything. What’s wrong with me?” She replied, “Nothing’s wrong with you, Jeffrey! This boredom is typical for people who have done well throughout the semester. Trust me, you will be fine.” After hearing that, I felt relieved and validated. I continued doing what I wanted, studying only a little bit. To be honest, I was still apprehensive of what she told me, but I now trust her judgement after I received all A’s that semester.
After a few weeks of the fall semester beginning, I couldn’t wait for final exams. I had weeks lined up with four tests and sometimes two tests occurred on the same day. While finals week lines up many tests on the same week, they don’t occur around the same time as other homework assignments being due, and usually don’t interfere with college applications. Furthermore, cumulative tests just means reviewing previously learned content. If I did well in my midterm exams, most of the finals should just be over the same thing that I had already learned. And if they aren’t cumulative tests, that’s fine too; final exam week is just testing, so other downtime can be used for studying instead of going to class. I find that finals week gives me the biggest chunk of downtime I can expect from any time of the semester, perhaps other than the first week.
Mathematically speaking, final exams are the final figure in calculating our grade. Depending on previous performance in the class and the weight of the final exam on your final grade in the class, one can achieve failing grades on their finals and still earn an A. This means there is lots of leeway for error if such errors are made and that means studying for finals is less stressful than regular midterm tests because there isn’t as much pressure to do well. It lets me show what I really know, without having to “cram” any knowledge into my head.
This post isn’t meant to be a panacea for those stressing over final exams. If you believe you know the content well, then you can chill a bit and naturally do pretty well on your finals, but if you have not done well on your previous tests, this is the home stretch for you to redeem yourself and try your best to get an A, if possible.
But if you had a successful semester so far, final exams are a pretty nice way to wind down. Best of luck to everyone this finals season!
Edit: I just took my first final exam of this semester: US History. It was purely a free-response exam and I had double the time I am usually afforded for this exam. So, I sat down and thought about what I would say. I excited my brain cells just thinking about how everything went together. I wasn’t under pressure to perform well. I just let out what I had to say on paper and I’m confident that I will do well. I’ve been learning this material all this semester and it’s not going to be hard to get an A.