To say finals bring out the worst in us would be an understatement. Take a walk around your campus and you’ll notice the adverse effects this week has on all of us: A girl on the bus bursts into tears because although she hasn’t slept at all in the last three days, she knows her chances of passing her Financial Accounting exam are slim-to-none. A guy beats his head against a desk in the library because even that’s not nearly as painful as attempting to solve one more calculus equation. Another girl studying biology somehow rips a stack of 500 flash cards in half out of pure frustration.
With all the stress we face each and every finals week, nobody is safe from stupid mistakes. We asked around to gather some of the worst exam fails our fellow students have endured. Take notes, set your alarms and please don’t repeat some of these classic finals week failures.
1. I almost missed my exam
I feel like I should start off this list with a personal failure. It happens to the best of us. My freshman year, I was up all night studying for my biology final. I then decided to take a two-hour nap just before the exam so I wouldn’t be running on zero sleep. Big mistake. I woke up exactly three minutes before my exam was supposed to start and had to sprint across campus so I wouldn’t be late. Moral of the story: set multiple alarms or use an alarm clock in addition to your phone. Also, avoid pulling all-nighters if at all possible.
2. My boyfriend and I broke up right before an exam
“I was waiting for my exam to start when I got a text from my boyfriend saying he wanted to talk. I decided to step out to call him really quick, and he broke up with me right then and there. Let’s just say I definitely wasn’t in the right mindset to take an exam after that.” – Emma Tilton, Junior, University of Florida
This is a tough one because it’s not exactly a situation that you can control. That being said, try your hardest to focus on the task at hand and block out any personal issues you might be having. An exam is typically only an hour or so out of your life and there will be plenty of time to tackle the drama after it’s over.
3. I had to take an exam without a calculator
“Last year, I somehow missed the memo that we were allowed to use calculators on one of my exams. Since no one had an extra, I had to take the exam without one. Talk about a serious disadvantage.” –Rebecca Vitkus, Senior, University of Florida
This is a great reminder to look over all exam protocols before the actual test. Make sure you know exactly how the exam is going down and what materials are allowed. Nothing can ruin your final exam experience like missing out on a serious advantage such as a calculator or a cheat sheet.
4. I fell behind in my online class
“I procrastinated my online class and was swamped with work about two days before the test. I had to power through and watch about thirty online lectures in one day.” -Graciamaria Irish, Senior, University of Florida
Online classes are probably the easiest things to procrastinate. The best way to tackle them is to set a strict schedule for the semester so you don’t get stuck with this problem. However, we all know that procrastination happens, and if you did put them off, trying speeding them up so you can get through them quicker. You’ll also want to drink a lot of caffeine.
5. I was going to skip class…then realized I had a big assignment due
“We were allowed up to three absences in my Spanish class, and I intended to use them all during finals week. However, I woke up one morning and completely forgot I had an important assignment due. I had to run to the library (in my pajamas) and finish it before class.” –Radhika Gopalan, Junior, University of Florida
Note: there could be important things happening during those last few days of class. It’s the end of the semester, you’re tired and it’s really tempting to skip, but you could easily miss a big assignment or important information about your final. Fight the urge to sleep in for just a few more days.
6. I got a really bad cold right before an exam
“One time I got a really bad head cold the day before one of my finals. I was that person who kept sniffling throughout the entire exam.” -Alyssa Aguero, Senior, University of Florida
It’s unfortunate that winter finals week and cold and flu season just so happen to overlap. If you do catch the plague, make sure you take care of yourself. Load up on medicine before the exam (non-drowsy of course) and bring a box of tissues. Don’t make the rest of us hear you sucking up snot into your nose the whole way through the test.
7. I forgot my school ID
“I had a final right after Thanksgiving break, and forgot to take my school ID (or any form of ID) out of my bag after traveling. I got to campus, realized I didn’t have it and had to buy a new one.” -Rebecca Vitkus, Senior, University of Florida
We really can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure you have everything you’ll need for an exam. It might sounds obvious, but it’s really easy to forget little things like an ID or even a pencil. Create a mental (or physical) checklist for everything you need and don’t leave your dorm before you’ve checked and double-checked.
8. I got in an accident on the way to my exam
“I was riding my scooter on the way to an exam and crashed into the back of a car after they slammed on their breaks. I wasn’t seriously hurt, but I definitely wasn’t in any condition to take an exam. Thankfully, I got to reschedule.” – Sam Teneyck, Senior, University of Florida
You can’t really plan for unfortunate experiences like this, but it’s a good reminder to always have a back-up plan. If something goes wrong, and you can’t make it to an exam at all, make sure you contact the professor right way and provide proper documentation.
9. I had a mid-exam mental breakdown
“I felt really unprepared for one of my exams and just started crying halfway through. I guess all the stress just caught up to me at once. Everyone in the auditorium was staring at me and I had to leave the room to calm down for a few minutes.” –Aleonne Joseph, Senior, University of Florida
While you’re studying, make sure to take lots of breaks and always remind yourself of the bigger picture. Practice some breathing techniques, listen to some relaxing music, or reward yourself with a treat. It’s just an exam, and at the end of a day, a bad score isn’t the end of the world. It’s not worth having serious anxiety attacks over. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your school’s counseling service if the problem is really persistent.
10. I got a concussion… while studying
“I was freaking out pretty badly about my statistics test my freshman year while studying in the library. In a dramatic attempt to explain how bad of a statistician I was to my friends, I threw my head back and accidentally slammed my head (hard) into the wall right behind me. I couldn’t see for the rest of the day, and I had to waste time sleeping it off.” – Paige Levin, Sophomore, University of Florida
This is a perfect example of how freaking out before a test can only (literally) hurt you. A few nerves before an exam are completely normal, but going into full on freak-out mode will lose your focus and can cost you precious brain cells you’ll need later. The minute you feel your head start to spin with the stress of studying, take a quick break.