KU students prepare for final exams with unique rituals, practices

By Maegan Ochse

As final exams week approaches, over 8,000 KU students prepare and make an effort not to stress out about their studies. They turn to a wide array of rituals such as prayer, caffeine and superstition.

“I have a superstition that you remember blue ink more,” said Alyssa Husko, a sophomore. “I have to write everything in blue ink when I’m studying.”

Students rely on their own lucky items. “If I use a certain pencil and I do good on that test, I’ll always use that pencil afterward,” said Kirsten Helnstetter, a sophomore.

Students primarily rely on their friends to alleviate stress, but they are spending less time with them as exams approach. Students spend more time at the library, or shut themselves in their rooms to focus on their studies rather than study in a group.

There are exceptions, such as Derek Keich, a sophomore. “Usually, I do [study] in a group, with kids in my class,” Keich said.

To curb stress, students watch shows on Netflix, play video games, listen to music, meditate or read. They also exercise either by swimming, playing basketball, walking, practicing yoga, weightlifting or going to Zumba classes.

Sleep is also an important factor in KU students’ lives, but some worry that they may oversleep, and so they prepare appropriately. “I’ll have one [alarm] for when I normally wake up and then one for a second chance,” said Jeremy Hoban, a junior.

Students visit the Cub Café, the Starbucks at the MSU or South Dining Hall to get a caffeinated beverage, making sure they are wide awake.

Stress can be trying on students. It can either trigger crippling anxiety or enhance their productivity. “[Stress is] kind of bittersweet,” said Kourtney Milligan, a sophomore.

KU students utilize free online learning tools to prepare for final exams, such as Quizlet and StudyBlue.

“Study, study, study,” said Naylan Robinson, a sophomore. “Try to get a break in and then study some more.”

Every KU student has a ritual they undergo before entering the classroom to take an exam. When asked, Milligan said that she prays.

During testing, students often second-guess themselves, going against their best judgment.

“On scantrons, usually, if I think I know all the answers, I’ll go through and I always go with my gut,” said Drew Reily, a senior. “I feel superstitious going back and changing the answer.”

Upperclassmen recommend that students begin to organize their respective notes during the first weeks of the semester. So when the final weeks of the semester roll around, a comprehensive study guide is available for reference.

“Take [the exams] seriously,” said Brittany Nerolle, a junior. “In my first year of college, I kind of took it as a high school type of thing, and you can’t do that.”

While preparation is a critical process in studying, Noah Strohm, a freshman, believes stressing about exams will damage students. “I think that if a person works themselves up over a test, they often do worse. So studying will just become irrelevant if they focus too much on it.”

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