When Alex Chang ’22 studies, he is usually gulping down a black coffee in the Quiet Study Area, colloquially known as ‘the Dungeon’ around campus, while listening to Metallica. The Dungeon is where students are careful to be as quiet as possible, with some even monitoring the noise of their typing, so as to not disturb the silent environment. 

Two levels up from the Dungeon is a more rambunctious crowd. In Farber Library, the classic Starbucks sounds of brewing coffee and blenders can clearly be heard above a mixture of school-related and recreationally-centered dialogue. These drastically different study environments signal the variation in how students best study. 

As a Computer Science major, Chang says his studying usually happens right before his exams. And although he says it stresses him out “a little,” his usual studying technique is cramming. 

In contrast to Chang’s technique of studying shortly before exams is sophomore Pallavi Goel’s method of comprehensive review. First, Goel makes a study schedule. Following her deadlines, which she makes sure are realistic, she then goes through all of her notes. Sometimes she even rewrites important sections by hand. 

“I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on how to manage finals season well, but I definitely feel like I know how to manage my time better and have developed better study skills,” Goel, a potential Health: Science, Society, and Policy major, said. “During finals season, I have to prioritize [studying] over social events because [finals season] is a super important and a grade determining time for me. Overall, I think I am facing less stress than I did both finals seasons freshman year.”

Another HSSP student, Talia Gerard ’20, splits her study time between the libraries and the Shapiro Campus Center. “I like studying in the TV Lounge because there are less distractions than in the library. In the weekends, I like it especially because there is coffee nearby,” she said. 

In addition to coffee, the junior usually snacks on an assortment of vegetables while listening to one of Spotify’s calming playlists while she studies. She starts the process of studying by rereading chapters from readings her professors assigned. However, her method of rereading texts is not always her primary study tool. “Some classes are more based off of the lectures, so I focus on understanding and reviewing that material.” 

During finals season, it is not uncommon to see laptops open in the dining halls, with students trying to maximize their study time. Many students like Gerard and Chang study while listening to a variety of music. However, Gloria Kebudi ’19, studying Business, says she cannot study with music. 

She is often in the Dungeon long before any of her final exams, studying purposefully in advance. “Start early to study. I learned this pretty late but once you start to study early there is less stress and more time to be social during finals week,” Kebudi advised. 

Because of the extreme silence that the Dungeon demands of its occupants, Kebudi intentionally chooses snacks that are quiet. “I never can eat loud stuff because of the places I study in, so usually I go for Rolos, Sour Patches and Smarties,” she said. She treats herself during finals studying by drinking milk with her Rolos, a chocolate candy with caramel. 

Chang and Kebudi frequent the Dungeon to study while Gerard prefers the SCC, but Robbie Lewin ’22 says that his favorite study environment is his dorm room, where he listens to everything from classical musicians like Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to folk-rock bands like The Lumineers. When asked if he is stressed out for his first round of college finals, Lewin replied, “Absolutely!”

Despite the emphasis on studying that dominates the discourse of how to prepare for finals, Goel says that a good night’s rest is crucial for a successful finals cycle. If she has a final in the morning, Goel tries to get to bed earlier than normal. Regardless of the time of her exam, Foel aims for at least five hours of sleep.

Similarly, Kebudi believes that seven to eight hours of sleep is an important step in her finals regimen. 

From vegetables to Rolos with milk, students’ favorite study snacks vary as much as their preferred study environments. And with finals week quickly approaching, the campus is filled to the brim with studying students.