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April 29, 2012

Get up, study, go to sleep! (Finals Week)

That’s me on the couch. That’s Finals in blue.

Among my friends at school, my Finals routine has become a little bit of a joke.  Here’s the trick: I sleep.  A lot.  I average 13-14 hours a day during the eight or nine days at the end of each semester.  My friends think it’s hilarious – they only see me at dinner, or in the Academic Commons.  I love it.

What I do is I make sure I have all of my work besides finals (exams or papers) done before the weekend before classes end.  That way, I can spend the next eight or nine days snoozing for most of the day, getting to the AC around 10 or 11 in the morning, doing some reading, studying or writing, grab a big dinner around 6 or 6:30, going back to the AC for a few more hours, and then be in bed by nine.  It’s sensational.  I think part of the pleasure of the system is that it’s so very different from the schedule during the academic year, when I’m usually up around 8:30 and don’t get to bed before 2 except on the very rare occasion.  I always feel so enormously well-rested and bubbly during this week.  All the responsibilities in the world boil down to five classes, and five different assignments.  And I have a week to do them!

Speaking of which, here’s what I’ve got.  For Earth Systems Science, we have a cumulative final worth 25% of our course grade.  (I’ve written about ESS before.)  I’m studying for that by reviewing the previous two midterms, my lecture notes, and the lecture slides posted online.  The nice thing about this course is that a lot of the material is intuitive, so if you grasp the core concept you’re 80% of the way there.

For Macroeconomics, we have a non-cumulative final worth 40% of the course grade.  Happily, we have a bunch of problem sets to review, alongside a set of practice multiple choice problems that were distributed last week.  In the same vein as ESS, a lot of this material just requires that you have understood the basic way things move with each other.  If I change this, what else will change?  Why?  What won’t?  Why?

The last sit-down final I have is in Research Methods, where the final is again non-cumulative and worth 30% of our final grade.  The bulk of the last portion of the semester has focused on statistical methods, which, happily, I took an entire course on last semester.  I’ll of course study for this one, but I’m not as worried about it as I am about macro, for example.  Professor Perry was kind enough to provide us with a study guide, including all of the terms that we’d need to know.  That definitely helps.  How can you rationalize not doing well when you’ve been given that?

My last two classes have large assignments as their final assessments.  In Writing for Advocacy, we’re producing a 9-10 page magazine-style advocacy piece on any subject we choose.  Although my usual tendency is to take the very big picture and try to cram it into 10 pages, in this case I’ve chosen a very narrow issue and will try to do it really, really well.  I’ll be writing to convince readers that, in order to have the best shot of winning the Presidential election, Mitt Romney should choose Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio as his running mate.

In Politics of the European Union, I have what’ll probably be the biggest challenge.  We have a take-home final worth 30% of our course grade.  Take-home finals are always difficult because, well, there’s really no end to them.  There’s always a way you can make your answers better, and so the only thing that really limits you is time and energy.  Plus, Prof. Butler is a notoriously thorough and challenging grader, so there’s no messing around here.  I’m going to be spending a lot of time on this one.  Four questions, tough answers.

Between now and May 10th, though, the bulk of my time will be spent sleeping.  How wonderful.

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