Cram, then exams, then holiday relief


CHRISTMAS IS AROUND THE CORNER — The snow has barely fallen but Hope students leave for winter break in just two weeks. It’s a well deserved rest after finals. (Sarah Downing)

Before the fun of winter break, Hope College students must get ready to finish their fall semester classes. Classes end on Friday, Dec. 9, and exam week begins Monday, Dec. 12. Many classes have already assigned papers and projects due by the end of the semester.

Hope does a wonderful job extending on-campus services for lots and lots of studying. To check final exam schedules and room assignments for classes, visit the website for Hope’s Registrar’s Office at Van Wylen Library will have extended hours starting Saturday, Dec. 10. The library is open from 10 a.m. – midnight on Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11 and 8 a.m. – 2 a.m. Monday, Dec. 12 through Wednesday, Dec. 14. Thursday’s hours will be 8 a.m. – midnight, and on Friday the library will be open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. for last-minute studies.

The Klooster Center for Excellence in Writing, located on the first floor of Van Wylen, will be open from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9 (as well as during their normal Friday hours from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) to assist students with papers. The Klooster Center fills up quickly during exam week so make an appointment in advance. You can make an appointment online at or by speaking with the desk receptionist.

While it is important to study and get those papers written, remember to take breaks to clear your head and study the right way. In his book “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens” Benedict Carey of the New York Times explains that “the brain wants variation. It wants to move, it wants to take periodic breaks.” Cramming before a test only lets the brain retain information for a short period of time.

Therefore planning study periods a few days apart before the test will allow you to better retain and recall the information. Researchers at the University of California suggest if your test is a week away, you should plan two study periods at least one to two days apart. For a Friday test, study on Monday and review on Thursday (New York Times).

Getting enough sleep is just as beneficial as taking breaks. For remembering facts and dates, the first half of the sleep cycle is most beneficial. The second half of the cycle is helpful for math skills. For example, a student with a foreign language test should go to bed early to get the most retention from sleep, and then review in the morning. For math students, the second half of the sleep cycle is most important — it is better to review before going to bed and then sleep in to let the brain process the information (New York Times).

Not sure when to take a study break? Hope has you covered! Take a break from studying and attend one of the many activities meant to help students de-stress. Visit the Phelps Hall lobby on Friday, Dec. 9 starting at 10:30 a.m. where a guest will be making balloon animals. The event is sponsored by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). For more information on CAPS and helpful tips for managing stress, visit

Phelps Dining Hall will serve breakfast for dinner on Monday night, Dec. 12 starting at 9 p.m. for all Hope students with a valid ID. Breakfast food and an assortment of donuts will be available — perfect for a late-night snack before you keep studying. On Tuesday, Dec. 13, visit therapy dogs in the DeWitt Center lobby from 12 – 2 p.m. If getting active helps you de-stress, come to the Kruizenga Art Museum on Tuesday from 7 – 8 pm for a free yoga session. Bring a yoga mat or a towel and invite a friend.

Exam week is stressful, but break is just around the corner. Good luck to all Hope students.

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