Warning: final exams may be closer than they appear

William Manolarakis

We’ve reached the seventh-inning stretch.

The comfort of summer weather and the freshness of a new school year have faded into the distance. 

Fall break, midterms and Halloween have all rolled by, and now Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Needless to say, it has been quite a ball game thus far.

But it’s not over yet.

At the weeks after Thanksgiving there looms a challenge against a tenacious opponent who has driven many unprepared college students to the brink of tears. 

This fearsome fiend has swallowed GPAs whole and has willingly supplied a healthy dose of regret and compunction to those who have not taken it seriously. 

Brace yourself. Finals are coming.

In the beginning of the semester, finals rarely crossed our minds.Perhaps we took a quick glance at the syllabi to see when they were scheduled, but rarely anything more. We recognized that they were eventually going to come, but we convinced ourselves that would take place way off in the future. 

“December’s so far away!” shouted the voice in our heads. 

“You have more important things to worry about!” 

And that certainly may have been the case. 

Between your demanding academic routine, extra-curriculars, service activities and social events, you probably have had a lot on your plate the past couple of months. 

Studying for finals, though important, was not necessarily the first thing on your list of daily tasks. 

However, we are rapidly approaching that time of the year when such an activity may quickly be ascending up the list.

That shouting voice in our heads has been hushed to a whisper, and now we must take significant strides to ensure that when the weight of finals comes crashing down, it is in the form of a ripple rather than a tidal wave.     

Thus, the question arises: how can we conquer finals before they conquer us? Using the acronym “FINALS,” we can surmount the challenge that final exams pose and emerge victorious with a thrilling walk-off win over the other team’s shutdown closer. 

First Things First

An essential component to mastering finals, or any tremendous set of exams for that matter, is prioritizing. In some cases, that might just mean passing up on a game of FIFA15 or a hangout session with friends in order to study. Simply put, you have to buckle down and put in the work. 

However, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that all the effort will be worth it when you receive the gift of a report card laden with A’s this holiday season.

Initiate the Process

They say that the first step in a journey is always the hardest one to make, but once you begin, the subsequent steps come at a much faster pace. 

The decision to finally turn back the pages in your notes to Day One of the semester serves as arguably the most pivotal choice you could make during finals season, and the earlier you elect to do so the better. 

Taking steps to stay ahead of the study curve will ensure that you are able to take the time to digest and fully comprehend the material, rather than attempting to cram seven chapters of the Biology textbook into your memory the night before.

Never Give Up

Studying for finals is not going to be fun. Nobody ever said that it would be. 

However, you have to have faith that you can make it through. 

You were accepted into Villanova for a reason, and you have to remember that someone out there saw potential in you, or else you would not be here.

 Stay strong, for even if you start questioning if all the work you are doing is worth it or wondering how you can possibly climb the treacherous academic mountain ahead of you, know that you will rise above and achieve greatness. 

Ask for Help

First and foremost, remember that you are not alone. As such, don’t be afraid to reach out and seek assistance from others. 

Asking for help is one of the most important study tools you have. And there is a plethora of resources to choose from. 

From your friends to your professors, the Villanova community wants you to succeed, and you should do your best to take full advantage of the resources available to you. 

Furthermore, services offered by Learning Support Services, such as the Math Learning Resource Center and the Writing Center, can be of tremendous help when you are struggling to grasp a concept or just need some advice in developing a study plan for a certain subject.

Let Yourself Relax

Finals can be an extremely stressful time period, yet some students opt to add to their stress by practicing the mentality where they feel that if they are not studying 24/7, they are not doing enough to prepare for the exams. 

Though I certainly respect that approach, it fails to recognize the fact that we cannot devote every ounce of our being to studying every second of every day. 

Doing so would most likely end up hindering you in the end, for by the time that finals roll around, you will probably be burnt out and mentally drained. 

So be bold and take an hour to watch an episode of “Breaking Bad” on Netflix or venture over to Café Nova to enjoy a cup of chocolate gelato. 


We’ve saved the best for last, as sleep is the most critical component to the complex puzzle of “how do I ace my finals?” 

All of the effort put into following the previous five steps can easily be washed away if the night before an exam you decide to pull an all-nighter. 

This is dangerous because when the test is distributed, it is very likely that you fall prey to the dreaded “mental blank,” due to the lack of sleep, and completely forget everything that you learned in the weeks leading up to it. 

Therefore, make sure that you get a great night’s sleep the night before, and you will be good to go from the moment you walk into the classroom to tackle the exam. 

As finals draw ever nearer and the temperature continues to drop, it seems as though we start to heat up in anticipation of the rigorous endeavor that is yet to come. It will not be the most exciting time in the world, but embodying the University spirit of Unitas, we will all make it through together. Hopefully the aforementioned words of advice will help guide you through finals season and allow you to fully enjoy the welcome winter break that follows it. Unitas, we will all make it through together. Hopefully the aforementioned words of advice will help guide you through finals season and allow you to fully enjoy the welcome winter break that follows it.