Some Thoughts on Final Exams



It has been a number of years since I finished undergraduate and graduateschool. And, even longer since high school; however, I do believe that I amqualified to give some advice on surviving semester exams. For those students around the country and here on campus, I offer this practical advice on managing your week. Note: I still use advice # 1, 2, and 5.



  1. Do not go to sleep until you have gone at lest three straight nights without any sleep. Only real students can pass this endurance stage. Forget everything your parents taught you about a good night sleep before finals.
  2. Eat healthy. A true final’s diet consist of Mountain Dew, pizza, and coffee.
  3. Borrow notes from the smartest kid in the class.
  4. If you have to study math, history, English, and science for the final, take this advice: ignore math – if you do not know it by now, you are not going to learn it in 24 hours. Ask the countless people in society who took calculus and still cannot balance their check book. Always mark this as your answer for English, “he wrote this piece due to his inner conflict with himself.” If you are taking a history exam, just write down the Treaty of Paris. Better yet, talk about the rise of class conflict and its inability to resolve racial and/or economic problems. Be sure to use Karl Marx’s name. As for science, list all of the terms you memorized from the typical bold print column in your textbook.
  5. Study in a tent (did it once, it was awesome). Best grades ever!
  6. Spend the week building up this incredible vocabulary to use on the exam. At worst, you can later argue that your instructor missed the concepts you developed in your essay. Or, if you are lucky, your instructor will assume that you know it before he/she stops reading.
  7. Write too much. Maybe your instructor will again assume you know it.
  8. Take your teacher out for lunch; I would only do this after you take the final and have clearly failed it.
  9. Fake a nervous breakdown. This will require medical leave. Think, two more weeks to study a semester worth of material you never learned.
  10. As a buddy of mine did, go to the movies every night during finals week. According to him, there is nothing wrong with a 1.5 GPA.
  11. Some schools have a policy that will allow you to exempt all finals and receive a grade of an (A) if your best friend dies. There are books on how to fake this. I would save this as your absolute last resort.
  12. If all fails, tell your instructor how much you enjoyed his or her class, even when you were reading the news paper during a lecture.
  13. If you have to take calculus, chemistry, and physics on the same day, refer back to advice number 9.
  14. If you leave campus thinking that all of your exams were very easy, you most likely failed them.

25 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Final Exams

  1. There are just a couple problems with your rules. First, notes must be taken from the copious note taker, not the smart one, because (s)he obviously is above matters as trivial as note taking. Secondly, the key to test-taking is to choose the answer most aligned with the professor’s political or religious views. For example, I always choose Socialism on a Carson exam when it is an option. Finally, you must remember to never attend a review session, those are merely teacher’s well concieved plans to bog you down in useless details that only apply to about 1/4 of the test, leaving you in a heap of trouble. Instead, ask the smart person you couldn’t take notes from what the entire section was really about.

  2. Kristi, let me guess, you got your notes from Gretchen? My class has never been a heavy notes class. Kristi, you need to post a piece on your blog discussing the difference between finals in high school to that in college. I will be sure to direct students that way. Can you remember? Both have merged in my old age.

  3. haha great advice….You do realize that you just told all of your students to get no sleep whatsoever, do no studying either, and bribe you into giving us a good grade? What happens if we all do this and end up with poor grades including your class? How will that reflect on you Mr. Carson? And written proof too of your advice too…

  4. Mr. Carson,
    After reading this I have definently decided that I will be taking your advice for finals. But, when I do end up sleep deprived and failing all my classes I really hope I can come to you for encouragement.
    If your wondering, a good “It’s ok Audrey, I’m sure some college will accept you,” will do.

  5. There is some satire here with this advice; however, that is not the case for sleep. I have done three days – it was tough, but I had little choice. You really should try to get “some” sleep. There is always advice # 10.

  6. numbers 1 and 2 are definitely a about number 4:
    “If you are taking a history exam,…Be sure to use Karl Marx’s name.”
    Would I get extra points? Just wondering…
    The rest is very amusing, and very useful!
    thanks Mr. Carson i will use all of them for your class:)

  7. so i’m reading these for a second time just procrastinating on doing a drama paper (?!?) anyways it seems that some of this stuff is actually harder than just studying the material. Personally I’d rather just study the subject, than study ways to make my best friend die.. and after that cherade hopefully not have to take the final..seriously. I may have to try number five sometime, but knowing me I’d be too lazy to pack the tent up again and then the grass would die and our barren yard would look even more barren. So I think I’ll just stick with studying with my little composition book in my room, there I won’t kill grass or my best friend. haha. peace out carson.

  8. so i’m reading these for a second time just procrastinating on doing a drama paper (?!?) anyways it seems that some of this stuff is actually harder than just studying the material. Personally I’d rather just study the subject, than study ways to make my best friend die.. and after that cherade hopefully not have to take the final..seriously. I may have to try number five sometime, but knowing me I’d be too lazy to pack the tent up again and then the grass would die and our barren yard would look even more barren. So I think I’ll just stick with studying with my little composition book in my room, there I won’t (fake) kill grass or my best friend. haha. peace out carson.

    pee ess i think ana has a good point aboot karl marxx

  9. wel i think this is interesting, but some of th best ways to study for exams is to build up knowledge throughout the semester so that all you need to do is review a little bit when it is the time. that is especially helpful in particular when you have so many finals and reviewing ahead of time so that you dont have to take euro and ab cal on the same day. *ahem* this is a pain with the schedules

  10. carson-

    so after reading this blog, it can be contended (yes, i stole your cool word.) that not studying/not sleeping from the constant sugar rush will somehow magically help us do well on our finals. especially in your class…haha. excellent advice. although i’ll admit i hardly sleep at all this most other students do! luckily for us all, starbucks or perhaps a redbull will definitely help us get through!! Personally, I eat eggs/toast w/ a huuuge glass of orange juice. works every time!

    THANK YOU FOR MOVING OUR FINAL!! haha..that would have been literally the same as cramming…it’s greatly appriciated!!

  11. as far as number 1 goes… i am officially taking up that challenge! oh, and i bet i could find a few other things to do for finals!

    oh, and here is this…i thought you might enjoy this Carson!

    THEM: What do you do?
    ME: I’m an astronomer.
    THEM: Oh my God! Tell me about the aliens!
    ME: Aliens? Oh, I see them all the time.
    THEM: NO! What do you do?!
    ME: I call the Border Patrol and they bring them back to Mexico.

  12. here are some more things to do DURING finals (not really of course…but you could get away with some…)!!


    1. Bring a pillow. Fall asleep (or pretend to) until the last 15 minutes. Wake up, say “oh geez, better get cracking” and do some gibberish work. Turn it in a few minutes early.

    2. Get a copy of the exam, run out screaming “Andre, Andre, I’ve got the secret documents!!”

    3. If it is a math/science exam, answer in essay form. If it is long answer/essay form, answer with numbers and symbols. Be creative. Use the integral symbol.

    4. Make paper airplanes out of the exam. Aim them at the instructor’s left nostril.

    5. Talk the entire way through the exam. Read questions aloud, debate your answers with yourself out loud. If asked to stop, yell out, “I’m so sure you can hear me thinking. ” Then start talking about what a jerk the instructor is.

    6. Bring cheerleaders.

    7. Walk in, get the exam, sit down. About five minutes into it, loudly say to the instructor, “I don’t understand any of this. I’ve been to every lecture all semester long! What’s the deal? And who are you? Where’s the regular guy?”

    8. Bring a Game Boy (or Game Gear, etc. . . ). Play with the volume at max level.

    9. On the answer sheet (book, whatever) find a new, interesting way to refuse to answer every question. For example: I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it conflicts with my religious beliefs. Be creative.

    10. Bring pets.

    11. Run into the exam room looking about frantically. Breathe a sigh of relief. Go to the instructor, say “They’ve found me, I have to leave the country” and run off.

    12. Fifteen minutes into the exam, stand up, rip up all the papers into very small pieces, throw them into the air and yell out “Merry Christmas. “If you’re really daring, ask for another copy of the exam. Say you lost the first one. Repeat this process every fifteen minutes.

    13. Do the exam with crayons, paint, or fluorescent markers.

    14. Come into the exam wearing slippers, a bathrobe, a towel on your head, and nothing else.

    15. Come down with a BAD case of Turet’s Syndrome during the exam. Be as vulgar as possible.

    16. Do the entire exam in another language. If you don’t know one, make one up! For math/science exams, try using Roman numerals.

    17. Bring things to throw at the instructor when s/he’s not looking. Blame it on the person nearest to you.

    18. As soon as the instructor hands you the exam, eat it.

    19. Walk into the exam with an entourage. Claim you are going to be taping your next video during the exam. Try to get the instructor to let them stay, be persuasive. Tell the instructor to expect a percentage of the profits if they are allowed to stay.

    20. Every five minutes, stand up, collect all your things, move to another seat, continue with the exam.

    21. Turn in the exam approximately 30 minutes into it. As you walk out, start commenting on how easy it was.

    22. Do the entire exam as if it was multiple choice and true/false. If it is a multiple choice exam, spell out interesting things (DCCAB. BABE. etc. . ).

    23. Bring a black marker. Return the exam with all questions and answers completely blacked out.

    24. Get the exam. Twenty minutes into it, throw your papers down violently, scream out “Forget this!” and walk out triumphantly.

    25. Arrange a protest before the exam starts (i. e. Threaten the instructor that whether or not everyone’s done, they are all leaving after one hour to go drink)

    26. Show up completely drunk. (Completely drunk means at some point during the exam, you should start crying for mommy).

    27. Every now and then, clap twice rapidly. If the instructor asks why, tell him/her in a very derogatory tone, “the light bulb that goes on above my head when I get an idea is hooked up to a clapper. DUH!”

    28. Comment on how sexy the instructor is looking that day.

    29. Come to the exam wearing a black cloak. After about 30 minutes, put on a white mask and start yelling “I’m here, the phantom of the opera” until they drag you away.

    30. Go to an exam for a class you have no clue about, where you know the class is very small, and the instructor would recognize you if you belonged. Claim that you have been to every lecture. Fight for your right to take the exam.

    31. Upon receiving the exam, look it over, while laughing loudly, say “you don’t really expect me to waste my time on this drivel? Days of our Lives is on!!!”

    32. Bring a water pistol with you.

    33. From the moment the exam begins, hum the theme to Jeopardy. Ignore the instructor’s requests for you to stop. When they finally get you to leave one way or another, begin whistling the theme to the Bridge on the River Kwai.

    34. Start a brawl in the middle of the exam.

    35. If the exam is math/science related, make up the longest proofs you could possibly think of. Get pi and imaginary numbers into most equations. If it is a written exam, relate everything to your own life story.

    36. Come in wearing a full knight’s outfit, complete with sword and shield.

    37. Bring a friend to give you a back massage the entire way through the exam. Insist this person is needed, because you have bad circulation.

    38. Bring cheat sheets for another class (make sure this is obvious. . . like history notes for a calculus exam. . . otherwise you’re not just failing, you’re getting kicked out too) and staple them to the exam, with the comment “Please use the attached notes for references as you see fit. ”

    39. When you walk in, complain about the heat.

    40. After you get the exam, call the instructor over, point to any question, ask for the answer. Try to work it out of him/her.

    41. One word: Wrestlemania.

    42. Bring balloons, blow them up, start throwing them around like they do before concerts start.

    43. Try to get people in the room to do the wave.

    44. Play frisbee with a friend at the other side of the room.

    45. Bring one pencil with a very sharp point. Break the point off your paper. Sharpen the pencil. Repeat this process for one hour.

    46. Get deliveries of candy, flowers, balloons, telegrams, etc. . . sent to you every few minutes throughout the exam.

    47. During the exam, take apart everything around you. Desks, chairs, anything you can reach.

    48. Complete the exam with everything you write being backwards at a 90 degree angle.

    49. Bring a musical instrument with you, play various tunes. If you are asked to stop, say “it helps me think. ” Bring a copy of the Student Handbook with you, challenging the instructor to find the section on musical instruments during finals. Don’t forget to use the phrase “Told you so”.

    50. Answer the exam with the “Top Ten Reasons Why Professor xxxx is a Terrible Teacher”

  13. I only agree with number one if and ONLY if i have Starbucks! Also, number seven.. very true.. it have worked a couple of times. haha Only at my old school however! haha

  14. ohhh carson carson carson.
    has your world history class even made it as far as marx this semester yet? cuz that advice might have been better for next semester. and you should add a little more spice into them like jenna’s. now those were amusing. *sigh* too bad i already took your exam. i cant do any of those.

    i officially have blog comment points
    have a good christmas break
    & you should try to NOT do work. see how long you can do it. ill put 20$ down on you not even lasting a day.

  15. hahah you people are my heros!! hahah nice one Mr. Carson you forgot one good one that is not a false excuse STRESS!!! ahhhh man some people are crazy enough to state that they work better under stress umm not true so ya i love jenna’s excuses and sam is too cute i agree with her comment on you being busy this entire break because thats just who you are but thats what makes us love you even more umm i will actually take some of these things under consideration but i highly doubt that i am brave enough to pull through with it but yes i agree with arianna thank you so much for moving our exam and you have made things less stressful thank you!

  16. p.s. some of those crazy people that attend our school is
    and i quote “yes, a pre-cal test i am so PUMPED!!!” umm normal people don’t think this way!

  17. mr.carson i LOVE your class its awsome!!!

    but like one thing that is totaly wrong is #13 casue like if i had all those finals in one day i wouldnt have to fake a nervous breakdown i WOULD have a nervous breakdown!!!lol

    p.s. i think my bff just died so ill take that A now

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