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Ace advice for all exam agonies

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Graphic by Hannah Anderson/The Olaf Messenger


Finals season is finally here, which means that the population of St. Olaf has been migrating en masse to libraries, study rooms, and multi-shot espressos. In this time of trials and tribulations, look no further than this article for advice on how to cope with the horrors of the coming weeks.


Don’t isolate — you should never be alone during finals season. Get yourself a buddy for studying! Someone who can hype you up! Of course, you can only study for so long, so your buddy will also need to accompany you for eating, sleeping, showering…


On that note, get some sleep. It doesn’t matter where or when. Be careful about letting your exposed flesh touch public couches and beanbags, though; who knows how many years of skin cells have accumulated there.


Plan in advance. Cramming never helps anyone, and that goes for both study time and sleep time. You can’t try to get all your studying done in the 12 hours right before your test, and you can’t stay up for days and then try to crash for a day to get it back. 


Go outside! Touch grass! Remember you are ultimately an animal built to run around in the bright outdoors. Go eat some berries, or maybe even a squirrel. 


On a similar note, do your studying in a room with a window, or where you can hear/see your fellow human beings every now and then to mark the passage of time, lest you end up in a haze of studying for 30 hours straight and miss your graduation.


Find one single song that will help you be productive and listen to it on double speed while working. By the time you’re done with your work, the joy of removing your headphones will only be matched by having finished the assignment itself.


Keep your eyes on the prize: leaving to do something equally taxing for the summer, but with a wage. Is it a good wage? Probably not — but at least it’ll be a change of pace.


Build in rewards for yourself to stay on task. Read a paragraph? Eat an M&M! Wrote a paragraph? Eat an M&M! Spent 16 hours straight reviewing every single chapter of Organic Chemistry? Eat two M&Ms!


Use the 20-20-20-20 rule when on your computer. Every 20 minutes, stare 20 feet away for 20 seconds, then go into the woods for 20 years. 


Re-calculate the grade you need on your final to get an A at least five times a day. Maybe the next time it’ll say you need a 70 percent instead of 140 percent. One can hope. 


Only use stimulants the way they are intended. Crushed coffee beans up the nose will hurt no matter how much you like the smell.


Prioritize. All else being equal, the paper that’s due in an hour should usually receive your attention before the one due in a week. As to the ones that were both due three days ago, you can decide for yourself where they fall on the to-do list.


Elias Hanson is from Chaska, Minn. Their major is environmental studies.

Jessica Schmidt is from Glenview, Ill. Her majors are biology and mathematics.

Elias Hanson
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Jessica Schmidt
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