Finals Week Prep: English Major vs. Biochemistry Major

With FSU's campus closed due to COVID-19, many students have moved back into their parents' homes. This was the case for me and my boyfriend, Curtis. We currently live with my parents, my sister and our three dogs. Things are crowded, to say the least. Preparing for finals week in such close quarters has been quite the challenge, but we're facing it as best as we can. Through this process, I've noticed that Curtis and I have significantly different kinds of "finals," making our preparation very different from one another. Curtis is a Bio-chemistry major and I'm an English major with a minor in Communications. He spends his time studying and doing problems while I'm writing and editing papers. I thought it would be interesting to explore just how different our finals weeks really are.

I asked Curtis to describe his finals week preparation.

"I study, but I pace myself. I take breaks when I need to, and I don't study for too long. I like to start studying sooner rather than later." He continued, "I start on my worst (hardest) topic first and then I move onto the easier stuff when it gets closer to the exam."

For myself, the process doesn't always require studying, depending on my classes that semester. Some English professors give exams, while others require papers. I've noticed that the higher I get into the major, the fewer exams I have to take. This is entirely different from my communications classes, however. Nearly every communications class I've taken has required an exam. If I have to take an exam in a class, I create a thorough and in-depth study guide. Curtis quizzes me on the material until I can verbally recount all of the information I've written. Writing papers comes much more naturally to me but requires a lot of time and thought. The main issue I face is having so many papers piled on top of each other. During finals week, I could be writing thousands of words each day.

textbooks Sharon McCutcheon

I wanted to see how different our finals weeks truly were, so I asked Curtis what his typically looked like.

"My exam week typically consists of four exams. A lot of them have required me to wake up really early in the morning. Sometimes they're on the same day." He paused, "Sometimes I leave and don't know how I did, which scares me. Some of the exams count for a large portion of my grade. A lot of professors don't put in a lot of grades. If I do poorly on the final, I could potentially fail the class."

Failing the class is never really a concern of mine. For the most part, my professors put in enough grades to where I don't have to worry about the final exam or paper doing too much damage.

Personally, I've been having trouble finding the motivation to do the work that is necessary in preparing for finals week. Without being able to go to coffee shops or the library, I don't find that I have the proper atmosphere to do the work I need. Of course, I'll get everything done. This is just an added challenge to finals week this semester. In order to maintain my finals week routine similar to my usual, I attempt to create as close to that atmosphere as I can get.

African American woman writing at a table with a cup of tea beside her Kat Stokes

Curtis seemed to share the same feelings as me when I asked him how this finals week is different from others.

"During quarantine, it's hard to find the motivation to study when there are all these distractions around. It is difficult to focus. If I was at school, I'd be going to study groups and spending time at Strozier or Dirac. Because I'm not at school, I don't get to do that. It's much easier to focus at a library rather than a home."

Although Curtis and I have very different finals weeks, we both are feeling the stress. If you're feeling it too, make sure to take care of yourself and remember that we're all feeling stressed and overwhelmed. This finals week, in particular, is especially challenging. Curtis and I recommend drinking some coffee and maintaining as close to your regular process as you can. At least, that's what we're doing. Good luck on your finals and stay safe.

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