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8 Ways to Prepare Early for Next Month’s Cornell Prelims

So that terrible second wave of tests is coming up and your calculus professor is starting to talk about “formulas to memorize,” and it’s becoming worryingly hard to find a seat in your chemistry lecture. Exams are a hassle for any student at any college, but Cornell prelims earn their reputation–time to stop pushing off those due dates and start preparing.

8.) Curl up and cry:
Prelims are hard–there’s a reason you hear everyone from the wired engineer to the hotelie whose workload he so desperately envies, talking about cramming in unhealthy amounts of studying and caffeine, to produce an overly-stressed student who doesn’t want to talk about school! Regardless of how much you prepare, prelims often feel more like a twisted dagger to your already fatally wounded GPA than an educational assessment.

7.) Reflect on your four-hour study break you took twenty minutes into cracking open the textbook:
That glossary was really complicated–you deserve it. At least you’re not a preppy Bostonite that takes a break every five minutes! Or do you? Nasties is always open, so maybe next time you can order online and use that seemingly endless wait time to learn what a derivative is. Use it as a reward for working so hard (or hardly working).

6.) When you’re in a lecture, leave at least one earphone out:
Okay, maybe it’s time to take them both out–after all, what if that cute classmate sitting next to you has a question about what the professor said? You could be the hero to answer that question, no matter how incorrect it may be! Not to mention, some professors at Cornell (I’m looking at you, CHEM 2090) have been known to have adverse reactions to the sight of earbuds. Unsurprisingly, Harvard professors don’t really care (as is the case generally).

5.) Instead of spending that $15 each month on Chegg, buy some textbooks:
It’s so simple–search any question, get any answer, all without the hassle of having to pull out your calculator to compute some stupid integral. Unfortunately, your math professor won’t look so kindly upon the question, “Are students allowed to use phones during the prelim?” For the record, you cannot–don’t ask, unless you’re generally in favor of angry exam proctors.

4.) Actually start going to lectures, even if just for the iClicker points:
So it’s that awkward point in the semester where you’re torn between your parents killing you for dropping a class or painstakingly waking up at 9 a.m. to go to an art history lecture. The sad fact is that it’s very hard for any student to maintain reasonable grades without actually going to their classes, so it’s time to start getting there in time for a good seat.

3.) Stop “studying with a friend” and start studying with a friend:
Sure, there’s a textbook on the bed and a calculator on the desk, but it’s very difficult to work on chemistry homework with a S/O who isn’t taking the same class as you–and you know full well that their roommate has probably made the same connection. Stop acting like you’re a bang-average Harvard slacker, maybe you should crack open that dusty book.

2.) Realize homework due Thursday morning doesn’t mean a Wednesday night grind:
While it’s very convenient to say “10 pages is still part of 600” and go out with friends on a Tuesday night like you’re a student at one of Massachusetts’ most bourgeois universities, pushing off all your work until the last minute is probably not the best habit to start getting into. This is Cornell, you’re going to have to work, and it is possible to finish an assignment more than two days before it’s due.

1.) Learn that labs actually aren’t timed trials to see who can get out the fastest:
It’s very tempting to tell your partner, “Let’s get this one out quick” and rush through every lab like the rooms are set to detonate on a timer, but sometimes you can learn much more from accidentally shattering a beaker of Cornell’s world-famous nitric acid yourself than you would in a traditional classroom setting.

Whether you’re at all prepared for the emotional and physical effects of a second wave of exams, preliminaries are once again coming–as professors begin to enter the “Okay, now you should really start studying” period of the year, look around your favorite library for the face of dread in its purest form!

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