In brief moments occupied by students and educators alike, some insight on study practices and pretest preparations were compiled. For the sake of all students currently watching their finals breach the horizon of the semester, we can offer some tips in these trying times. Some of these features are old news, some are strange and unusual but most of these suggestions can prove to be helpful in curating a study space. 

We asked students if they even studied, how they did it, and if it worked for them. We also asked about the implementation of pretest rituals or exam traditions that we all pretend like we don’t do.

The answers to these inquiries covered a large spectrum of student practices. There are the “Test Anxiety Makes Me Forget My Name” types, the “No Study, We Die Like Men” students and the ever familiar “Crammer”. Among these subclasses, we can gather that there are a few common denominators in how finals affect a student population as well as our fight, flight, or freeze responses when it comes to a cumulative test that your grade may or may not depend on.

What Works?

Picture of a textbook. May 5th, 2021. (Signal Photo/ Izzi Bechere).

Generally speaking, cramming seems to be the most popular mode of ‘studying’. Skimming notes and rereading important tidbits of material are common practices. The material in which a student is being tested on seems to direct how one studies, or at least tries too. What might work for a Biology or Mathematics test might not work for say, Literature or History. Different courses have different needs and that includes memorizing equations versus quotes. There is a healthy amount of students asked that don’t ‘study’ per say, but feel they’ve been paying enough attention to warrant taking the test head on. 

Some notable pretest rituals include:

  • Going for a run. Expelling anxious energy through a physical avenue could make it easier to sit through a test. Alternatively, maybe you’re late to class, you can get two birds with one stone.

  • Weaponize your anxiety in the form of drinking a liter of water before the test. The more you have to ignore the urge to use the restroom, the faster and better you might perform.

  • Drown out your pretest woes with the sound of music. Turn off an overactive brain to focus better when you finally take the exam by rocking out to your favorite show’s theme song or greatest hits from the early 2000s.

Take pride in any strange tradition you’ve adopted into your test taking throughout the years. Remote learning might have festered these ceremonies into something completely different, who knows. No one is perfectly ready or completely calm in their preparation for a stressful exam. The waves of finals are about to break on the shore, but that doesn’t mean you have to brace yourself. Try surfing it instead. There’s no right or wrong way to brave the tide, do what works for you.

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