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Friday, November 28, 2014

Show Me How To Survive Finals: tips and tricks from UNM professors, students

It’s that time of the year again — the semester’s winding down and students are getting in the holiday spirit. But before you can enjoy the holidays, there’s still one obstacle left to face: finals. Whether this is your first finals week or you’re an old pro, the Daily Lobo is here to help you stress less and enjoy success. So before you hit the books, here are some tips and tricks from UNM professors and students to help you study smarter.

Visualize — James Burbank, English professor
Many finals are held in places other than the usual classroom, which can feel strange or disconcerting. Burbank suggests visiting the room where you will take the test and imagining yourself taking it, trying to stay as calm as possible.

“Just before sleep, picture yourself responding to the test. Be very detailed about your visualization,” he said. “If you notice that you are getting tense, your hands are sweating, your brow is furrowed, stop the visualization. Get up, walk around, breathe deeply, then lie down and give it another shot.”

Take some “me time” — Katherine Barton, East Asian studies student
One of the major complaints students have about finals week is stress. Barton said it’s important to have time set aside specifically for studying and relaxation, and to know the difference.

“Study when you’re studying, relax when you’re relaxing,” she said. “Use this time to focus on yourself and absolutely do not quiz yourself on test questions, you’ll fry your brain.”
Barton suggested taking a long bubble bath to relax your body and mind.

Get physical! — Lorna Brau, UNM foreign languages and literatures professor
Studies have shown that exercising releases endorphins, which makes people feel happy, less stressed and energized. Brau suggests taking time out of your study schedule to get up and get moving.

“When you’re tired, do downward dog or do 10 minutes of vigorous exercise, whatever works,” she said. “Take a few moments to get outside and take deep breaths.”  

Feed the beast — Emily Hostak, psychology student
Finals week means a lot of running around that may leave students with little time to eat. Hostak said finding time to eat is crucial; otherwise you’ll be left in the library with a rumbling stomach. “Studying on an empty stomach sucks,” she said. “You’re not going to be able to focus on your studies because you’ll be too busy focusing on the fact that you’re hungry.” One way to avoid an empty belly is to pack healthy snacks, such as trail mix, into your bag or backpack on the way to a study session.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself — Machiko Bomberger, Japanese professor
Finals give students the opportunity to show everyone what they’re made of. Bomber said setting your sights high, but not unreasonably high, can give you the motivation to do your absolute best. She said to start studying at least a week before your exam so you’re not cramming the night before.

“A little bit of tension is okay because it forces you to perform,” she said. “Push yourself as much as you can because college is hard.”

Learn from past mistakes — Caitlin Pendleton, anthropology student
Everybody learns differently. Pendleton said knowing which study habits work for you and which don’t will point you in the right direction in terms of how you should be studying. She said that if you’ve used flashcards in the past and they worked, use them again.

She also said knowing what you need to study and what your resources are early on will help you in the long run.
“Try to do a quick review of your notes as soon as possible,” she said. “You don’t want to wait until the last minute to realize you don’t understand something.”