Tips to get you through finals

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(Courtney Pedroza/DD)
One tip to get through finals is to give yourself incentives, such as watching television or playing a computer game, after getting a certain amount of work done. (Courtney Pedroza/DD)

At about 4 a.m., a girl stood outside of Taylor Place shifting her weight and glancing at her phone. It was 2013, but more importantly, it was finals season. Two small headlights turned the corner and a Prius pulled up.

The girl zipped her jacket and hoped the person inside the car wouldn’t catch a subtle smoke smell from the habit she picked up two days ago — when finals started.

The woman driving handed the girl a CD.

“Thanks, mom.”

Yes, I called my mother at about 3:30 a.m. last year and asked her to drive downtown so I could get a CD for my final history project due at 7 a.m. Am I proud? No. But there is not much open in the way of office supplies in the middle of the night.

I did not sleep that night. The following day, I spent eight hours in the library. When finals season was over, I knew one thing: there was a way to successfully do finals. I had not done that.

As the dreaded time approaches again, the Downtown Devil thought we owed it to our readers — and really ourselves — to offer advice on how to successfully do finals week.


1. Find a place to study

Some people can sit down in their rooms and study for hours. They are likely the minority. A student sits down with the best intentions when he suddenly remembers to change the bed sheets, reorganize a DVD collection and return a neighbor’s vacuum.

While walking the vacuum down a couple doors, a student may find herself in a long, meaningful conversation with someone whom she previously only said “hi” to in passing.

It’s important to have a place to focus. Of course, the library is an option, especially Cronkite’s 24-hour library, but I advise coffee shops.

Coffee shops are typically calm places with only a low murmur in the background, which allows for a nice studying atmosphere. Additionally, the influx of people will allow you to take little mind breaks to people-watch.

The close proximity to caffeine products, such as coffee and tea, is a nice touch. Also, every coffee shop downtown has Wi-Fi.

The farther from the dorms you go, the better. People you know are bound to walk into a close shop — most notably Starbucks and Fair Trade.

    My top three suggestions (in no particular order):

  • One Coffee Co. on Central Avenue and Washington Street. While there, try the chai.
  • Songbird Coffee and Tea House on Roosevelt and Third streets. It seems as if every patron there is working, so you’ll fit right in. Try the chai there, too. There are plenty of hot and iced loose-tea options as well.
  • Cartel Coffee Lab on First and Washington streets. There are no medium sizes, so be committed to either a small or large. There is also a kitchen where you can get food. And a low-hanging chandelier.

Jobot Coffee was excluded purely on the basis of its popularity. Too many people you know go there.


Graphics by Director of Multimedia Jayson Chesler.

2. Give yourself incentives

When it seems like all hope is lost, it might be time to give yourself an incentive. This is especially effective for writing long papers.

It’s a simple bargain: finish X number of pages and treat yourself to something. Perhaps a game of 2048, 10 minutes of Tumblr or, for the daring, a Netflix break.

But please note, Netflix breaks are a double-edged sword. An unofficial poll of my peers would tell you that we suddenly become addicted to a new TV series during finals. You must have a strong will to take a TV break, or else you’ll find yourself on a binge.

And while we’re this vein:

    TV Shows to Avoid During Finals

  • Game of Thrones
  • Scandal
  • Anything you have never seen before that has more than one season

3. Give yourself a stress reliever

Sometimes you need to take a break to regroup — especially if you need to get your creative juices flowing for an essay or if you’ve just memorized 50 terms and don’t think more can fit.

I took up smoking. I do not advise taking up smoking (I stopped after finals and still have the same pack in my backpack).

Instead, look to healthier alternatives. Take a casual walk around downtown, preferably in the morning or evening. Take a nap in Civic Space Park. Try exercising to get the blood pumping.

Basically do anything that lets your mind rest.

    Positive stress relievers

  • Yoga
  • Music/dance breaks
  • Laugh (seek out YouTube videos, comedy movies and funny friends)

4. Actually use a calendar

It’s a special feeling, the one where you realize a final is the next day and you haven’t studied. Or your project is due and you still don’t know what you are doing it on.

You still have time. Before finals actually start, plan out when your finals and projects are due.

Then actually create a study calendar. Hermione Granger did it in Harry Potter and look how well it turned out for her.

The best way to avoid stress during finals season is to avoid procrastination and plan ahead. If there is any advice you decide to take from this list, please pick this one.

    Calendar tricks

  • Set up reminders on your phone calendar
  • Personalize study calendars (with colors, pictures, quotes)
  • Channel your inner Hermione Granger

5. The basics

I advise you to eat healthy, sleep and shower.


That about sums it up. For those of you who were wondering, classes end May 2. Reading days are May 3 and 4. Finals are May 5-10. For those of you eager to see how you did, grades are due May 7-13.

The goal is to not become a sleepless chain smoker who wakes her parents at odd hours of the night.

The Downtown Devil wishes you good luck with your final season. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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