10 Ways to Survive & Ace Your Final Exams

By Hector Cervantes, Junior at DePaul University

The pressure is on for students at DePaul University who have now entered their tenth week of the quarter, or better known as their last week before final exams. DePaul University is one of the few universities that are on the quarter system, notorious for being a fast-paced system. Think of it as a 16-week traditional semester course load put into a 10 week quarter.

It’s not hard to understand how DePaul students can be stressed out during finals. However, as a junior, I have experienced many final exam weeks. So here are 10 tips for surviving and acing your exams:

1. Creating a study schedule

Being organized and having a set schedule and routine will make your life a whole lot easier. The best piece of advice I can give you is to not cram study material in one sitting. Instead, spread out work and study time for each exam well in advance. This way, much more information will be memorized, and you’ll be less likely to burnout and be frustrated.

2. Choosing the study location and settings

The setting and location where you study is a significant factor in the success of a study session. The study environment affects productivity, so choose your study area wisely. One solution to this problem is to vary your study location. After some time, switch to a different area. Also, make sure your study location is well-lit and free of clutter.

Pro-tip: Don’t pick somewhere too comfortable like a bed or couch and eliminate distractions.

3. Maintaining and knowing various study skills

When you study, make sure you know the method you’re using is helping you as you don’t want to waste your time. If you see a method of studying is not working out, change it. Some study methods can be using flashcards, re-reading course materials, online quizzes, study guides, and even group study sessions. Experiment with different study methods until you feel you are successful.

4. Know when to practice self-care

Do not neglect self-care, your mental health is important. DePaul University offers many events for students to practice self-care, like Midnight Breakfast. Other events include meditating, yoga, and arts or crafts. Instead of studying for a long time, take short frequent study breaks every two hours so you’re less likely to burn out. Go to the gym, work on a hobby, make a snack… anything that avoids thinking about course work.

5. Communicate with professors and peers

Communication is the key to success. If you are unsure about a topic, ask your professor. You will never know if you do not say something. Instead of being clueless, email your peers or instructors with clarifying questions. The course page in D2L has a list of names and emails of students and instructor(s).

6. Seek out resources

Make sure you attend your professor’s office hours, not only will they appreciate it, it will also make you stand out. Many departments also offer free tutoring from students who have taken the class in the past. You can also schedule an appointment at The Writing Center to help you revise your papers. I have received help when I attended the LSP quantitative reasoning free tutoring, and it helped me become more prepared when it came to the final exams.

7. The night before

Be sure to have everything prepared for the day tomorrow. Make sure to have your bag ready, and clothes set so you can avoid being late to the exam. Also, make sure to get a good 7-9 hours of sleep, and to avoid any distractions like your phone or laptop that will keep you up at night.

8. The morning of

The alarm clock finally rings, the first tip is to not hit the snooze button. Jump out of bed, and start off your day. Do not skip breakfast, and eat something that will give you energy for the exam.

9. During the exam

It is best to arrive a few minutes early to get situated and be sure to use the washroom before. Try to stay for the entire duration of the exam. If you come across a hard question, skip it and come back. Also, be sure to read the questions carefully. Don’t get nervous, all the studying you have done will pay off.

10. Reward yourself!

Be sure to reward yourself and celebrate when you’re done. Hang out with a friend or do something that you know you enjoy.

To Listen or Not to Listen: Music vs. Productivity

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

It’s hard to imagine a world without music nowadays; we’re determined to find the right song for every moment—even the job search requires a special playlist. Spotify and Apple Music have completely revitalized the way we approach music, especially when it comes to playing tunes in the workplace. In the academic world, however, there’s a raging debate as to whether or not listening to music while we work will have positive or negative effects on our productivity.

So, what exactly are experts saying about the dispute?

Don’t always listen to music with lyrics

This debate in particular is central to researchers. Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford University, states, “Music with lyrics is very likely to have a problematic effect when you’re writing or reading.” It makes sense; when you’re focused on a comprehension-heavy task, the lyrics to your favorite song are likely to distract and therefore impede your success. However, music with lyrics may not affect mathematical tasks due to the decreased reliance on the language parts of the brain, according to Nass. In that case, perhaps you’re much better off listening to lyric-filled music when formatting a resume as opposed to when you’re creating content for a cover letter.

Understand your mood and pick music accordingly

Studies have proven that listening to music affects your mood drastically; researchers have even gone as far as sharing the benefits music has on individuals coping with depression.

Now, if you’re desperate to listen to music while working, it’s important to assess your mood before picking that perfect playlist. For example, let’s say you’re faced with a complex multi-step task at work that’s making you anxious; in this case, researchers would suggest electing for a calming musical playlist and saving Skrillex for later. If you’re feeling upbeat and want to keep the momentum going on an assignment then a jazzier playlist would perhaps better suit your situation.

When it comes to music and the way it impacts your productivity, it’s not a matter of just playing your favorite playlist; it’s more about consciously catering your music choice to your mood and the assignment at hand. Don’t know where to start? Check out 100 Most Uplifting Songs Ever on Spotify, for those days where you’re conquering job applications and updating your resume. Need some motivation to get you through the workplace hustle and bustle? Try listening to At Work. Need some calming vibes because the job search is stressing you out? Listen to Relax and Unwind.

At the end of the day, music is going to have a profound impact on your productivity and it’s up to you to channel that impact into the momentum you need to finish a work assignment or power through the job hunt. One thing is for sure—the soundtrack to your life should be filled with the kind of motivation that best suits you. Make sure you take the time to identify what does and doesn’t work for you!