Ask the Office: Finals

Happy fall, y’all! Pumpkin spice is finally in the air and we hope your fall semester is going good! Since we’re a month out from finals, now’s the best time to start prepping for your exams—putting them on your radar now and beginning a study plan will help you pass your classes. Read on for advice on what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, from the Marketing Department @ the SDFC!

Jacey, Graphic Design Coordinator, on checking the version history.
“I literally watched somebody live plagiarize me on Google Docs. I watched them copy, highlight my work and then paste it into their column. I was just like ‘Wow.’ I watched it happen, so, yeah, don’t do that. Just know that people are watching you on Google Docs—there’s a lot more surveillance than what you’re thinking.”

Jake Wilson, Marketing Coordinator (Polytechnic), on getting it done.
“I do mainly project-based finals. I think for me, I kind of work in spurts and if I can get a solid chunk of time I typically try to use every second of that time. So whether that’s from, like, 4-10 pm or whatever the case may be, I use every second of that time to get in the zone and try not to have any interruptions in between that time.”

Addy Bennett, Copy Editing Coordinator, on keeping due dates straight.
“My horror story is that in my freshman year I took two English classes, right? And they were both with these really old professors and they kind of looked alike. And I loved them, I was obsessed with them, but that’s beside the point. They were great and, yeah, two English classes, so I was feeling really confident, the finals were just essays I had to write. So I wrote up one essay, got her done, it was cute, I sent it off. And I had probably less than a week in between the two due dates but quite a few days and then I was like, ‘Okay, time to write my second one.’ And then I realized that I had mixed up the due dates, so I turned in one final really early, and then I had just not turned in the other one. So I reached out to my professor and fortunately he was really nice, but make sure you know which final goes with which class, because you’ll really screw yourself over. Amen.”

Johnny Simhai, Videographer, on the kid that airdropped the answers to the whole class.
“So in high school I met this guy, and he was on the football team with me. I transferred from a different high school and after I got to know him, I learned that he was a bit of a trouble maker, but I didn't think anything of it. We would go to homecoming and different events for the seniors and I would ask about this guy but he would never show up. Apparently the reason he was never allowed to come to any of these events was because the year before he got the answers to a final and airdropped pictures of all the answers to the class from his phone. Here’s the thing—he airdropped it to the teacher as well. So he must have had a really good conversation with the principal to not get expelled but his punishment was that he got a zero on his final and he was not allowed to be in any senior events. Don’t airdrop all of the answers to the entire class.”

Jake Wilson, Marketing Coordinator (Polytechnic), on making sure you’re signed in.
“I was taking a final online and it was open note, so I had the notes on one monitor, right? And you’re taking the test on the other. And for some reason I had to sign back into Blackboard, what we used instead of Canvas, on my other computer. And when I did that, I was in the middle of the test. So none of the stuff that I continued to do after I signed in on the other computer saved. So whenever I submitted it, it looked like I only did, not even half of the entire exam. And when I got the grade back, it was like 40%, or 20% even. When I saw that, I’m like ‘There’s no way.’ Because I had the notes, it was open note because it was completely online. But I reached out and I was like ‘I don’t know why I got such a low grade.’ And they were like, ‘Well, you didn’t finish it.’ I was like, ‘That’s impossible. I totally did.’ The professor believed me, thankfully, and let me retake it.”

Sasha, Copy Editor, on time truly being of the essence.
“My biggest tip for finals is to start early. It always takes more time to prepare and study than I think it will take. Sometimes it can be stressful to review while still covering new stuff, but the sooner I know what my problem areas are in a class, the more time I can devote to understanding the material. Plus once I know what I need help with I can always ask a classmate about what I don’t understand or a tutor or the professor. Plus, if I get done studying early, it gives me time to relax before the finals begin.”

Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes, but to make sure your study plan is super solid, use these tips to get prepped for December!

Make a study plan for each class. You’ll get a better idea of how much time you need to dedicate to each class when you have a study plan. The best way to do this is to block out time to go over notes, slides, homework and exams to see what you understand and what you don’t understand. Write out questions you still have and ask a classmate or the professor. Make goals for your study plan, like the amount of time you’d like to study for the week or particular material you want to have mastered. Use your phone calendar or an app to stay on track!

Study early. To get the most out of your study sessions, start them a few weeks before finals. This may sound like a pain but helps you out in the long run—you’ll have less panic prep sessions and know the content at a deeper level. It also helps you identify any problems before they become a real issue.

Connect with classmates. Collaborating with other students allows you to hear different perspectives on concepts covered in class and solidify the concepts in your mind. Get together with friends and classmates to go over the covered material, talk through harder points, and compare notes. As you talk about the material, it will make it more clear to you, and you’ll have the benefit of both having other people to ask questions when you’re stumped and having the opportunity to share your knowledge and answer someone’s question.

Schedule breaks. Be sure to make time to give yourself a brain break. Not only will it help break up your stress, but it’ll improve your concentration and help you get more out of your review session. Try going for a walk, watching a TV show, or playing a game. You can also try out the Pomodoro technique: set a timer and study hard for 25 minutes, take a 5-10 minute break, rinse and repeat.

Take care of your body. While studying, don’t forget to take good care of your body. Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep, food, and water. It may be tempting to stay up all night cramming for your finals, but sacrificing sleep can cause stress on the body and you won’t retain as much material. Be sure to also eat plenty of healthy food and stay hydrated. It will help your brain perform at its best!