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Navigating finals week: Capitol professors weigh in

Finals week is a time that, for many students, brings a sense of trepidation.

Typically, it involves intense study sessions, long nights, and the pressures associated with exams that can account for a significant share of the grade in a course.

As students hit the books and review their notes, they are concentrating on a single goal: gettiing through the exams and doing their best.

But what exactly is the secret to success? What specific steps should a student take in order to ace the finals? We asked four long-time professors at Capitol to share their advice and recommendations.

Professors Charles Case, Charles Conner, Claude Rankin and John Ryan have taught countless numbers of students over the years, gaining unique insight into the factors that make for academic excellence. Depending on what your study habits have been over the semester, they have good -- or bad -- news to deliver.

The bad news: if you haven't been keeping up with the work, it won't be easy to make up the lost ground this late in the game.

The good news: if you've applied steady effort all along, you'll be well prepared.

"Just do the assigned work and you shouldn't have any trouble," says Ryan, who retired from full-time teaching last spring but returned this semester to teach an introductory electronics course. "Take good notes throughout the semester, review all of the homework that you've been assigned, and stay in touch with the professor when you have questions. If you do those things, you'll have no trouble at all."

His colleague Conner agrees, noting that how finals week goes "depends on what you did during the first 15 weeks."

Whether you were a star student or struggling over the course of the semester, there is value in going back over the work that has been done, the professors stress. If you did well on something, review it. If not, figure out how to fix it.

"Review your old in-term tests, check any problems that you missed, study those, take a look at the problems in the book that are similar, and contact your instructor [in case of problems or questions]" advises electrical engineering professor Case.

Claude Rankin, chair of business and humanities, believes it's important for students to keep their morale up. While finals week can be daunting, it's also a relatively brief time interval, with winter break and the holidays coming immediately afterwards.

"We're so close to the end. Everyone just wants to go home. But hang in there -- don't put off  studying and doing your work. It will all be over soon," he said.