This is a partial re-post for students who are about to start freaking out about finals that start this week. It has been a number of years since I finished undergraduate and graduate school. And, even longer since high school; however, I do believe that I am qualified to give some advice on surviving semester exams. For those students around the country and here on campus, I offer this practical advice:

  1. Do not go to sleep until you have gone at least 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 consists 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.

27 thoughts on “Finals

  1. Dillon, Carson thinks other things are important too, like make sure you write something about how the French Revolution is a watershed moment in the history of the world. He’s big on the French Revolution. Those answers that you have there are all good ones though.

  2. … but the French Revolution was a watershed mark. Too bad you are not around to hear my most recent concentration on the Atlantic economy and its impact on the French Revolution.

    Jim Brown …. ?

  3. Mr. Carson, this has got to be the best finals advice I have ever seen. Better than “eating a good breakfast” or “getting a good night’s sleep.”

  4. Finals are overrated. Never really cared for them much in high school.

    There’s no need to worry about them; the hype is what causes the anxiety.

  5. I cant believe that nobody has mentioned the landmark court cases in early American History. It is one of Carson’s most touched upon subjects in the second quarter of APUSH. I ain’t gonna lie though, here are my reasons for discrediting your approach:

    1.) 1 doesn’t really click with me-maybe just because I love to sleep
    2.) I can’t really stick to 2 because my parents think that it enhances the effects of ADH………….D (sorry funny commercial).
    3.) 3 is kinda hard to do when you are that kid….I know, humble right.
    4.) 4 is total (barnyard epithet). If you don’t believe me, take Mr. Mellor’s PAP Pre-Cal class.
    5.) 5, refer back to the ADHD comment.
    6.) 6, If you’re gonna to endeavor this one, be perspicacious enough use the colloquys you designated as study constituents in the correct context and domiciles, Thesauruses do not always work in your favor, obviously.
    7.) Don’t ramble on about something that is totally irrelevant because it is always as Yogi Berra says, “If there is a fork in the road, take it”
    8.) I would attempt number 8 if I didn’t fall asleep while driving and total my baby. Maybe I like sleeping too much.
    9.) If I didn’t have a nervous breakdown when I wrecked my mustang the day after we buried my Grandma, I don’t think they’ll buy me having one because of a test that’s worth 20% of your final semester grade.
    10.) You’re friend did that when producers were actually still having original ideas that weren’t copied from books, former movies, or Michael Moore’s stupid ideas.
    11.) The internet is out now, Dean Thompson would undoubtedly be smart enough to look up whatever phony name you came up with and deduce that you were not best friends with a 70 year old actress who died during implant surgery.
    12.) Or doing homework for other classes. But that obviously doesn’t happen at our school. I mean, with Pax, Mellor, and Carson in one day, it is so easy to get all your homework done at home.
    13.) I agree with Carson, but look back to my true number nine.
    14.) Unless of course it was an elective, in that case, ask yourself why the H-E-double hockeysticks you chose an elective that required a final during finals week anyway!

    Hope you found mine to be as, if not more, insightful than Carsons.

  6. Your final is only 20% of your grade at our school… I figured out a long time ago to not sweat em that much.

    If I get a 100 my grade might go up a point and if I get an 80 it will go down 2. Oh well…

  7. carson – you sing it – its a song
    look up Davis Allen Coe – “You never call me by my name” the last verse.
    I guess it was too much of an inside joke.

  8. Outstanding list. I shall share it with my firstborn soon. He is in the 7th grade and is now undergoing his first ever semester finals. I am trying to instill those good study habits in him. I was thrilled to find that he thinks he wrote too much on his literature essay question; not so thrilled that he thought the math final was easy. Although, I always thought my math finals were easier than I expected, but then I would worry that I got everything wrong.

    I also stopping by to wish you the happiest of the season, and I am hoping you have a refreshing break.

  9. My students BETTER study for my exam … how many other teachers:
    1. Gave you a review?
    2. Broke the review into “bite-size” pieces so that you would not be overwhelmed?
    3. Gave you class time to work on the reviews?
    4. Provided you with keys SHOWING ALL OF THE WORK for the reviews????????

    YES, you CAN and SHOULD study for math … it is called re-working problems!

    Jim, … this is for you …

    “You don’t have to call me Darlin’, Darlin, but I wonder why you don’t study … but I wonder why you don’t study … but I wonder why you don’t study for my test ….” I guess there are some things you get only from an Aggie education. 🙂

  10. It stinks that I read this after taking your exam this morning. I feel like I missed out on a good opportunity to study in a tent.

  11. You didn’t hear, she already used number one essentially. She said that she was up all last night studying for your final. She’s pretty darn determined/spunky if you ask me. I would say that it is a pretty nice trait to have. btw, Why’d you remove some of the earlier comments. And lastly, did you find my DBQ, I want to know how I did?

  12. I also have had a lot of experience with finals. I must add just a few comments..
    1. I always practiced the art of studying until 3 a. m., taking a 2 hour nap, and then waking up again at 5 a.m. Seemed to work pretty well for me.
    2. Dress up really nice the week before exams to get the attention of any potentially smart nerds in the class that you need to help you study. Flirt, smile. This is your grade… pull out all the stops!
    3. Call your parents a lot the week of finals. Be weary and weepy while describing how hard you are studying. Hopefully they will feel sorry for you enough that when the grades come in.. the phrase “i know you did your best” will be the first thing out of their mouths. (Tried and true method right here!)
    4. I like the pizza diet, but I also sprinkled in Hot Tamales in my eating frenzy(you know.. the red candies). One year I ate so many of them I couldn’t taste anything for a week!
    5. Dress nicely for finals. Studies really have proven that you do better on exams if you feel confident about your appearance. It is also one last attempt to show your professor that you care. The dress up option can also couple with the idea that if you fail, maybe you can go interview for some job after you have flunked out of school.
    6. Lastly, my real advice is that if you have paid attention in classes, and IF you have done the reading, you know more than you think you do. Relax, have confidence in your ability to reason and your own knowledge. And, always lowball your grades to your parents. If you do better, they are so proud. If you did poorly, they are already prepared for it.

  13. So insightful.. I love how this was posted in 2008 (when I was in middle school) and is still applicable and very useful! And Carson who has the highest grade in APUSH currently? I need their notes…

  14. That would be either Meg Goode or Sam Herrera without a doubt. Thanks for this Carson gave me a good laugh. Now I just need to find a friend who’s willing to fake their death…

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