Stress is normal part of finals week at USD

Before students can enjoy the upcoming months without their faces buried in the books, they must get through finals week.

During the past week, USD students experienced what many of them consider the most stressful time during the semester.

"Finals week and the week before are the most stressful time because it's time to get papers in, projects in and tests," USD senior Tiff Hrdlicka said. "Sometimes it's make it or break it as well."

Hrdlicka is studying contemporary media and journalism at USD and she said her major has helped her prepare for finals.

"I procrastinate to the fullest, and considering my major, I love deadlines," she said. "I feel I work best under pressure, and I feel like I pound out my best papers at two in the morning, and they make sense."

Not everyone follows Hrdlicka's method during finals week.

Junior Jessica Olson doesn't necessarily have a set plan, but she does know what she should study before hand.

"I plan out more time to study during finals, and I usually study for the first final first, but I have no set method; I study for my finals whenever I feel like it," she said. "Each class is different too. For Spanish, I know I have to study for the vocabulary whereas for anatomy I know I have to study definitions and things like that."

Olson is a psychology major and has three tests during finals week, but she said the week before finals can be even worse.

"I think the week before is more stressful, because I had some test, projects and papers all due," she said. "At least during finals week, there are no class ¬– just tests, so it makes it a little less stressful."

Both Hrdlicka and Olson did agree on one thing which helps students prepare for finals –– the syllabus.

"It's helps you know what you have to get done ahead of time," Olson said.

Professors set everything up with the syllabus for a reason. In fact, professors start preparing for the finals before the students do.

"We started planning for our finals about a month ago already," said USD associate professor of business law Greg Huckabee. "Every professor gives a syllabus which sets everything up, including the test. Any professor that waits to the last minute to put together a final shouldn't be a professor."

Huckabee said there is no one set way to set up a final and different professors have different ways to put together the final, just like how each professor puts together their classes differently.

Huckabee makes his final worth 20 percent of the final grade, and he has the test cover all the material over the course of the year.

"I use business problems in the form of multiple choice questions and it applies everything they learned over the course of 14 weeks," Huckabee said. "I think it helps bring what they learned to life that way.

Another thing Huckabee is to make sure his students aren't worrying about long the final takes.

"I am careful not to create a time stress because rushing students through the test doesn't teach the students anything," he said. "I try it make it a minute per question, but there aren't too many questions so they can carefully analyze and choose the best answer."

Some professors have a more difficult time getting students prepared for the test because of the amount of material some classes cover every semester.

College algebra professor Donald Hixon said he does the best he can to help prepare the students for what's on the final test.

"No way we can have that many questions that can cover everything throughout the year; we go over a phenomenal amount from graphics to logarithms," he said. "I don't want to bog down the students, and I want to make sure students know what's on the test."

Hixon said many students worry about the final, but it's not just because they are looking to pass the course.

"There are people there are worried about whether they are going to get an A or a C," he said. "Math can be a bit harder because you can't just memorize it, but you also have to know how to do it."

Hixon said he doesn't have many students, if any, come up to him after the final asking for a better grade or more extra credit.

"At that point, they tend to accept it because the final is the end of the line," he said.

Huckabee said he sees about the same thing – students stressing more if they are going to get an A or a B, or B to a C.

Huckabee said he doesn't see much fluctuation in the students' performance during the semester to the final.

"I don't see too many swings as in an A student getting a D or a D student getting an A," he said. "High performers perform the same throughout the year and so on."

Hixon, who is also taking graduate courses, offers advice for students for the last two weeks of the semester.

"Give yourself some free time to study the material and pace yourself," he said. "Make sure you also don't study too much, because the day has to come to an end."

Hrdlicka said the hectic pace of finals week offers an unique experience outside of classrooms.

"The stress with finals week is good, because it helps you deal with stress in your life after you are done with college."

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