It’s finally time. The library is starting to get packed (at loose interpreted intervals of six feet.) Break is coming up, but the upperclassmen aren’t acting like there’s a break anytime soon. Classmates actually start attending Zoom lectures. All signs point to finals season being just around the corner.
So, how to prepare? Adjusting your study methods for the pandemic, especially if this is your first finals season, can be tricky. Luckily, I’m an expert at ruining my life every exam period, and I’m here to help you do the same.
With this easy 5-step guide, you’ll learn to impress your friends, astound your enemies and disappoint your parents more than ever before.
Tip #1: Forget about finals entirely
The sensible thing to do before and during finals season is to manage your time well and space out your study sessions so that you’re not overly pressured or cramming. This is also against the spirit of finals season, so go ahead and ignore all of those essays and exams.
So, if you’re going to GPA hell for one sin, you may as well commit a thousand sins and go down a legend.
To spend your time on activities more worthwhile than studying, consider trying to see how much you can take from the Deece before someone stops you! If you’re a remote student, peer pressure a friend into doing it, and then ghost them once campus security show up.
You’re supposed to enjoy Thanksgiving break, of course, (well, on paper) but go the extra mile! Invest 80 hours in one week into your pro Netflix watching career. Discover a new hobby, and then abandon it entirely. The presidential election is practically done, but keep up with it anyway! Stressing over the widening divisions in a heavily burdened society can very effectively replace your exam worries. In addition, winter break means seeing family again, so your schedule will be completely full with distracting non-studying activities.
Sure, you’re going to have to deal with finals later, but that’s a problem for the Future You.
Tip #2: Panic
Ideally, Stage One should last up until Thanksgiving break is over, and then a little longer after that. Approximately two days before the official exam season starts, enter into the panic phase. Make sure to suddenly realize your letter grades are at stake and there is no universal NRO to save you now. Extra points if you realize this just before you sleep, so you spend an hour in bed imagining how you will explain four failed classes to your parents.
First, spend a good day worrying over your future and what you’re going to do. You applied to college—you’ve done this at least once before. Then, realizing the problem doesn’t go away if you panic enough about it, scramble to find a solution.
Study groups are good, right? Try them out, and see how the ones you make with your friends inevitably get off topic and the groups you make with anyone else are too awkward to ever get on topic. Tell yourself you’re going to go to Metcalf, and never get around to actually doing it. Spend a couple hours highlighting notes, before realizing the highlights mean nothing because you don’t have a clue what the highlighted words mean anyway.
You’ve tried and thought of everything, but nothing seems to work. You think about it some more, and you shudder with a terrifying realization—there really is no better way than to cram.
Tip #3: Sacrifice sleep for glory
You know what, fine. There is no easy way out. You’ve accepted you’re not getting an A in this class, but you do want to get your diploma, and you’re honestly starting to doubt that you will unless you pull off something wild.
In other words, you don’t have much in the way of choices anymore.
Statistically speaking, your sleep schedule is probably already disappointing. But what’s stopping you from pushing it further? Cut your daily amount of sleep to six hours, then four. Then maybe three or two hours, if you’re feeling strong. Spend your newfound time rewatching lectures, and crying over your notes. Don’t worry—a lack of sleep never hurts your ability to study.
For extra energy, replace all water in your life with coffee or Red Bull. It gives you energy, and you probably won’t have a heart attack. If your body starts rebelling, start taking caffeine shots at dawn to show it who’s boss. After all, health is temporary, but GPA is forever.
Most crucially, you must complain to your friends about how bad your schedule is. Since we’ll all be off campus by this point, this will be difficult, but you can compensate by sending them a Zoom link without explanation and hoping they take the bait.
Optionally, you can also study in between these sessions.
Tip #4: Lose all hope.
Life is ultimately worthless and so are we. The world’s overdue for a world war, and it looks like every world power is pushing to speed the whole thing up, and that might not even matter because we’re all going to be gone in a couple decades no matter what. Yeah, someone in your class is going to get straight A’s without breaking a sweat. So what? Neither of you are going to be able to afford a home in the next ten years anyway.
Is college even worth it? Even if the investment makes sense, the water levels are rising, and the polar caps are shrinking, and the people in power seem to be happy to ignore it until it’s not their problem anymore.
Let these thoughts consume you, as you frantically burn textbooks into your mind. Do they help? Not at all. But you can’t stop them anyway.
Tip #5: Take your exam with a smile on your face.
You know what? That was a tad overdramatic. It’s fine. You’re fine! And you’re going to do great on your exam. (Well, you won’t, but you’re too caffeinated, sleep-deprived and socially-distanced to notice or care.)
It’s okay. Vassar will put a note on your transcript that there was a pandemic (after an excessive amount of work from students prodding them into doing it) and recruiters will definitely treat your GPA more fairly, because being considerate is what they’re known for. It’s not like there’s a hundred thousand other applicants who’ve had their grades inflated in light of the biggest collective catastrophe of our lives.
You take your test scheduled at 9 a.m. for some reason, marvelling at how every single topic you actually felt confident about is entirely absent from the final. After what feels like both a minute and a century, the clock on Moodle runs out, and it’s all over.
Take pride in how far you’ve come! Sure, you might not get your bachelors, but you’ve successfully smashed through the five stages of grief, and in record time! Now, as you finally get to relax over winter break, think about what next semester has in store, and how much more you can disfigure your transcript. There’s always room for improvement.