A (dis)honourable student’s tips for finals week

It’s a week before exams so depending on the type of student you are; you’re either about to dust off your books or about to do a practice exam for the hundredth time. In my (extensive) experience at university there are two types of students: the honour student and the dishonour student.  I’m the latter. No, I don’t party till dusk every day but I also don’t quite open my books as often as I would like.  While that may have more to do with my delusion that I can learn anything through osmosis it still lands me in hot water at this ripe old age.

So here are a few tips to make finals week more manageable for us dishonour students:

  1. Prioritize. If social media is your Achilles’ heel, then download an app that limits the amount of time you can spend on a social media or using your phone such as Forest. If you can’t stop joining committees and going out at the drop of a hat then use a planner, Google calendar, or a sheet of paper to make a rough plan of action to tackle the sections you need to study and review for your exam.
  2. Make a study guide. Also known as a summary or recap, a study guide should contain the most vital information giving a general understanding of the subject you’re studying. If you have to memorize molecular structures, names or formulae then making flash cards might be handier. You can make flash cards online or with an app on your phone such as Quizlet. If you think ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’ then just use pen and paper and list them down and add a very concise definition, or keywords next to them. Having an overview of what you need to know for the exam is very handy, as the brain tends to memorize things easier if there are easily connected with each other.
  3. Practice makes perfect. There are a bunch of practice exams in the CB’s archives. Your lecturer or professor will also provide you with a practice exam as per our exam regulations (if this is not the case then please inform the Programme Committee). The exam tries to test the knowledge acquired during the course. However, we all know its limitations. Usually the type of questions are always the same, or in the same order. Sometimes, it’s clear you can pass the test my memorizing how to answer specific recurring exam questions. If you’re comfortable with that then do it. On the other hand really knowing the material will be more beneficial for your general knowledge so try no to rely to heavily on this and use it more to get acquainted to the way the lecturer/professor asks questions. Additionally, you can practice by re-doing tutorial problems of sections you struggled with.

Whatever you do don’t cheat! Being dishonourable doesn’t mean you have no principles (just no extra honour credits nor mention on your diploma). I can proudly say I’ve never cheated. Some think that is stupid, others think ‘meh’. To me it’s an important part of my character but I’m idealistic like that. As the kids say: you do you.

If all else fails, hunker down and cry in shame. Just kidding! Remember that you’re not defined by your grade. Your grade is just a number. It’s just one flopped test. Does anyone ask Ben  (yes I imagine we are on first name basis) what his lowest grade was at university? No, because in the end it doesn’t even matter (had to pay an LP tribute).  Just do better at the re-exam, next year, or in 2 years. You lost a battle, not the war. So hunker up and good luck to everyone starting finals next week!


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