The Key to Succeeding During Finals Season via Zoom

We live in unprecedented times, which means our lives are now filled with consistent surprises, twists and turns. The world that we live in often throws unexpected things in our direction, both good and bad. 

If there is anything I’ve learned from saying goodbye to my sophomore year of college basically overnight, spending half of a semester at home, being on lockdown with my entire family while finishing out the school year and learning how to take classes via a computer screen, it’s that people have to expect the unexpected. You never know what will come next, so you might as well prepare.

If you asked me a year ago what my finals schedule would look like, I would tell you I’d be taking back-to-back, in-person exams in a large lecture hall at school. I never thought I would answer that question by explaining that I would be taking online-only finals from my house in New York. How is that even possible? How has it come to this?

Either way, this online-only experience is the new norm, and the best thing I can do for myself is accept and embrace this new way of life and education. I spent weeks during the beginning of quarantine in a state of denial, which consisted of telling myself this was some sort of fever dream.

Now, here I am, eight months later, accepting that this is reality.

It’s getting close to the end of the semester now. You know what that means. Everyone’s favorite and least favorite season: finals! Inevitably, finals are stressful, especially in college. Wrapping up your semester grades with a test and preparing for hours on end is a stressful time for your typical college student. I can easily recount my past two experiences with finals season, both of which consisted of countless hours at the library and a whole set of new notes.

Nevertheless, many circumstances are completely different now. Many of my finals are now delivered on Zoom or through a proctored site. My new classroom is my home kitchen. My new test sheet is a computer screen. My new writing utensil is a keyboard. However, at the end of the day, finals are still finals. Even though this year has been a tough one, finals don’t have to be. Here are three ways to make this year of finals the most successful year yet.

  1. 1. Embrace change

    By embracing change, it’s easier to have a positive mindset. Convincing myself that I will not perform well means that I am setting myself up for failure. Therefore, I want to maximize my success rate by keeping my mind as calm and positive as possible.

    If you really think about it, this switch to online testing could be a good thing. I know, I sound a litte optimistic, but hear me out! Because of it, we get to take exams at home, which means I am in the comfort of the place I know best. I don’t have to stress about sitting in a crowded room with other students. I don’t have to worry about the time it would normally take for me to get to and from the exam.

    Also, virtual learning often makes things easier to organize and find. Everything is in one place instead of in scattered notebooks. If anything, I feel more organized now than ever.

  2. 2. Find a study method that works for you

    This new method of education and testing means you might have to switch up how you were previously studying. That’s okay! Embrace that change. (See what I did there?)

    I have always been an avid loose-leaf paper and agenda type of student. Now, Google Drive and Google Calendar are my best friends. I make sure to update my Google Calendar with my different classes, assignments and clubs. I also include the Zoom links to my classes and exams. I organize my Google Drive by class, so I can easily find what I am looking for.

    Organization is the first step toward preparing for finals, at least in my world. I’ve always been the kind of student who didn’t feel fully prepared until I was organized in my own personal way.

    Everyone has different study methods. Do you like to make your own study guide? Are you a visual learner who benefits from watching videos? Either way, you know yourself and your habits better than anyone, so make sure to stick to those in an organized fashion, and don’t be afraid to try out new techniques if you still aren’t sure which method works best for you.

  3. 3. Prepare in advance

    Don’t wait until the last minute to start preparing for the exam. That means studying and figuring out how the test will work. For me, I will be reading all of the instructions for my finals and seeing how I will be taking each exam. I will be writing any important information that I need to remember on my laptop sticky notes. If you’re scrambling last minute, chances are you’ll have technical difficulties. And trust me, you want to avoid that.

It can be so tempting to procrastinate – especially with everything being online. Fight that urge, and prepare in advance so you are ready to take on that final and do your absolute best. Most importantly,  remember that even though you and I may not be in a classroom, we are still getting a proper education. After everything we have been through this year, I feel grateful that I am still able to call myself a Florida Gator and continue my education experience at this amazing institution. Good luck on your finals, and go Gators!