JAWED: All-nighters for finals are counterproductive

Opinion Column: If Not Our Own, Then Someone's

Pulling all-nighters before final exams seems like the logical thing to do. At least in my experience. I keep hearing that sleep is important, but when push comes to shove the night before the exam and I feel unprepared, sleeping is the last thing on my mind. It just makes more sense to stay up, cram and walk into the exam knowing that I at least covered everything even if I barely got any sleep. 

But based on a recent experience when I got no sleep the night before and blanked out on an important exam, I have finally decided to reconsider this approach. You always hear that sleep is really important for performing well on exams. Unfortunately for us procrastinators, the only way to make that happen is to study in advance, and over a considerable amount of time. 

"This seems like a ridiculous idea, but chances are that you’ll find yourself staring at the ceiling/television/dog rather than the textbook on a few of those nights, and you’ll have a buffer since you started studying early, rather than freaking yourself out two days before the exam" according to an article by the Daily Collegian

Learning material and sleeping on it is one of the best ways to build memory. You have heard this before, but I am going to say it again. Sleep optimizes alertness for the test, so pulling an all-nighter is not the way to go. It is one of those things I wish I would have learned from my own experiences. But somehow whenever the next exam rolled around, there I was the night before, cramming. But no more. 

These are the sleeping tips for optimal exam performance you need to know. It is exam season, so this sounds ridiculous, but learn and THEN SLEEP. Then wake up and do it all over again. 

Much to my dismay, waking up early and getting studying done is usually more effective and efficient than staying up late and studying as you battle the day's exhaustion. Waking up for the 8 a.m. has already probably been hell this semester, but desperate times — also known as finals week — call for desperate measures. Wake up early.

Now, you can manage your sleeping cycle all you want, but you do need to actually MAKE time to study. 

As the end of the semester rolls around, finals are, without a doubt, the priority. Minimize time spent in club meetings, extracurriculars and even jobs if possible. And for whoever needs to hear it, this is not the time to go out. 

"Say no to unnecessary things. (If you learn how to do this, please come teach me)," said Gabrielle Barone, the author of the Daily Collegian article.

In addition to deciding when to study, which is usually early, you want to think about how to study. 

Planning on how to study for particular finals is just as important as actually studying for them. Rutgers Learning Centers have A LOT of in-person and online resources. These include peer tutoring, academic coaching and writing coaching, all of which can be crucial in this last attempt to save your grade or to maintain satisfactory performance. 

They also have multiple ongoing finals workshops that inform you on how to approach the planning aspect of studying for finals. A couple of minutes of planning will make studying much more efficient and beneficial. The planning tools provided in the 1-hour workshops are designed for you to conclude what exactly you need to study and how to study it. Sometimes this missing component is the only thing holding you back from a better grade.

In your head, you probably kind of know how you should go about finals season, but chances are that things are going to get in the middle of studying and this arbitrary plan in your head. 

Write it all down. What you are going to study, when you are going to study it and how you are going to do that. Make a conscious effort to minimize any unnecessary activities and stick to the plan.

Malaika Jawed is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. Her column, "If Not Our Own, Then Someone's," runs on alternate Fridays. 


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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