It’s that wonderful time of year again. Finals!
If you have time to read this today, either you’re through with the bane of most students’ existences, or you’re procrastinating. In either case, congratulations!
Personally, I fall into the first category. I took my only two exams today, and now that they’re both out of the way, I’m looking forward to going home for the holidays. Unfortunately, I’m trapped at school for another two days, so until my flight, looks like I’ll be spending lots of time on Facebook.
But there’s a downside to that, too. See, everybody else on Facebook is complaining about finals: how they should be doing finals instead of being on Facebook, how they’re so stressed about these finals, etc.
I’ll admit, I made the requisite “Yay I’m done!” status update, but that is where I draw the line.
Everyone hates finals. The last week of classes before taking a nice long break (or before having a few weeks of working nonstop to keep paying for school or before whatever it is you plan to do) is always particularly stressful. And I don’t understand why.
“But Jen,” you may be thinking, “It’s obvious! It’s stressful because if I don’t get an A on this final, I’m going to fail!”
Really? Then why the hell didn’t you do the homework or the extra credit or go to class or take the other tests or any of the number of other things that professors grade? It’s not like you sit in a lecture hall two or three times a week for 15 weeks and then the only thing you have to show for it is a multiple choice test at the end of the semester.
This always surprised me in high school, too. People always did the same thing. “The final exam is 20% of our overall grade!” And? A lot of you people are math majors or some such nonsense. How much is 20%? Oh right, not enough to freak out about as long as you kept on top of things the rest of the semester.
Also, have you ever noticed how many classes don’t even have finals? I took 6 classes this semester (15 hours) and only two of them had final exams. One of which was optional.
Now, I will admit it’s different for B.A.s like myself versus B.S.s like the majority of Stony Brook. For some reason, science professors really like tests. And when you have a thousand students in one class, that’s really the only way to do it anyway.
But the obsessive studying I see around me seems counterproductive. My philosophy on tests (particularly mulitiple choice style) is either you know it or you don’t. Looking over a study guide or reviewing a chapter the week or day before might be useful to refresh your memory, but spending 14 hours poring over your notes from the semester without breaks except to go to the bathroom (my suitemate and her friend actually did this the other day) is not going to help you. Studies show that humans can really only absorb information for 20 minutes at a time, and then they’re just staring at a series of letters and numbers.
Now, I know people have different reasons for why they freak out, and for those of you who do it because you insist on a 4.0 GPA, more power to you. I used to be like you. Of course, that was before I realized I could keep my 4.0 without freaking out about tests.
Now, for those of you who freak out because you didn’t stay on top of things so failing this test really is the end of the world, that’s your fault. Quit clogging up my newsfeed. I have CastleVille requests to respond to.