How to Survive Finals Week

Hey Cygnets,

Happy Easter Weekend to all and hope everyone who celebrates it was able to spend time with family and friends. Week 14 is upon us and the following 2 weeks are littered with anywhere from 7-11 finals depending on your trimester. If that doesn't boost Starbucks' profits, recede your hairline, or wreck your circadian rhythms than you're probably a mutant. Or you read this article. Probably the first one. ;)

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Me and the dog in an Easter food coma at my house. Ha ha.

This article is about How to Survive Finals Week. I Googled that phrase and literally got THE MOST BORING article after article of "Sleep more...Double Check your Exam Times...Study Hard..." Ummm… Tell me something I don't know! Here's the "5 classic tips" with my own spin on them.

1. Do Better On Midterms: When 2+2=5 and How to Take Advantage of it.

Ha ha. Duh, but hear me out! It has literally taken me 5 trimesters at NUHS to FULLY appreciate this tip. This tip works disproportionately well at NUHS. Why? Because we don't give 'Pluses' or 'Minuses'. That means, according to this fine institution, that a 100 = 90. An 89=80, 79=70, 69=60. In other words, there is a TON of leeway for grades. I was planning this out with my buddy Kendall: I have an 85 average in Pathology 2 through two exams, which means I can basically get a 75(ish) on my final and still get above the 80 threshold I need in that class to get a B. Remember 80=89. For many classes, the difference in studying to get 9 points higher on an exam is another 6-8 hours of time on the grind (TOTG as my buddy in college would call it). Now, it may sound like I'm cheating myself, but I am using that opportunity cost of studying for more Pathology 2 to apply it to my Renal Physiology final for which I do need a much better grade to get my grade up to the NEXT level. So, it goes both ways. You just have to plan it out and study accordingly. Don't hate the game; hate the system. 

2. Don't Worry About GPA, APPLY IT.

GPA is NOT that important anymore. 99% of you are in the last school you'll ever apply to. I'm going to open my own practice when I get out of here. I'm not giving myself a raise if I get a 3.5 instead of a 3.0. I'm not saying don't try hard! I'm saying KNOW the information in respect to APPLYING it to your future patients and the real world. If you get a 4.0 and you can't treat a patient (which can happen), do you think your patient cares what GPA you have when you're adjusting their occiput? Nope. There's so much minutiae you will learn in plenty of your classes that you will never use in the real world and if you get that question wrong, who cares? Don't freak out. It saps the energy you need to study for the next class. Stay even keel and keep the bigger picture in mind. Like the British in WWII, keep calm and carry on. 

3.  Caffeine Physiology and the 'Off Switch'.

Sometimes you get into a rut and the wall of information overload sets in. Just give up. Ha ha, just kidding, here's a chance to take a break and multiply the benefits of caffeine.

  1. Leave your notes on the desk
  2. Drink a cup of coffee.
  3. Lay down and close your eyes for 30 min. (It takes about 30 min for caffeine to get into your blood stream and to your cells. By then it will start working its magic...just in time for you to wake up and be ready to blast through that previous information overload barrier.)

Hint: Don't Overuse. Be Strategic.

4. Blood Sugar Drives Human Behavior.

Hydrate. Eat protein. Eat low glycemic foods. The experience of most students during finals is Manic--sugary snack-filled highs followed by hypoglycemic, insulin-driven lows. These lows are the part we need to keep an eye on. The low sugar blues are often just that, slightly depressing and one can easily feel overwhelmed by the workload as your brain efficiency plummets, starved of glucose availability, as your adrenals work hard to drive gluconeogenesis.

Eat protein at each meal for optimal satiety between meals. Eat every couple of hours for stable blood sugar. Optional: Talk to an ND student and consider taking an adaptogenic herb for stress management.

5. To Music or Not to Music.

When you walk into the library during finals week its almost a cliche' how many people have headphones. Did Steve Jobs possibly foresee taking over all the study rooms with his Apple gadgets? God Bless America. Anyways, I have found that during cram time I cannot study very effectively with music. Whether it's bobbing my head to dub step, crying to the country song, or rapping with Snoop...it takes me 2x longer to absorb information with music. Maybe Dr. Darby could explain the left/right brain activity or maybe it's just too much input into my nervous system, but I've tried to be 'cool' for 5 straight trimesters. This time I'm gonna be the weird guy in the corner cubby without the trendy white headphones that fall out of your ears on a run. ;)

On an NUHS note: This is the last blog of my basic science track!!! Woo hoo!! See you all after break. My 24th bday is a couple days into break and I'm sure the first blog of next trimester will have some stories. :)

Take care over break.

Later Gator,
CC