Step 1: Find out the dates of the midterm and final then mark them on your brand new dry-erase calendar (don’t forget to circle them in red!) and highlight them in your syllabus just to show yourself how prepared you are. This year is going to be different — this year, you’re going to study!
Step 2: Spend the next 3 months in a drunken stupor. Forget about the class until two days before the exam.
Step 3: Oh shit
Step 4: Check out the course website to see how much the exam is worth.
Step 5: Oh shit, that’s a lot
Step 6: Formulate unrealistic expectations about how much you’re going to study in the next 48 hours. My personal favorite is to claim that missing class was no big deal because I’m just gonna read the entire 500+ page textbook in one night to get me up to speed.
Step 7: Spend an hour or two looking at the course website to find out what’s actually being tested. Make up a detailed study guide that budgets your time accordingly. Take a 45 minute break to reward yourself for being so productive.
Step 8: All right, let’s do this! Study the earliest material with a thirst for learning that would shame even Einstein. Spend two hours digesting every minute piece of information from the first lecture and be sure to make detailed study notes and practice questions for yourself. This is going to be a piece of cake!
Step 9: Watch your resolve slowly slip away. Make an elaborate snack. When your friends ask you why you’re not cramming even though your exam is tomorrow, tell them how easy the course is and that you’re just getting some “study fuel”.
Step 10: Come back and take a look at the next month’s work of course material. As your discipline slips, take less and less notes and stumble around Wikipedia seeing how fast you can get to the article on Adolf Hitler from the Functional Genomics page only by clicking embedded links.
Step 11: Completely ignore the last 2 weeks of class material. After all, that’s fresh in your memory.
Step 12: Once you finally reach the end of your required reading (many, many hours later) begin the lengthy rationalization process (for best results, this should be done in “study” groups).
Step 11: Rationalize not studying more because you’ve already looked at everything.
Step 12: Rationalize not studying more because it’s an easy course.
Step 13: Rationalize not studying more because you’re a shining diamond of intelligence compared to the other neophytes in your class and if you do badly, EVERYONE will do badly.
Step 14: Rationalize not studying more because it’s not worth that much anyway.
Step 15: When your friends invite you out to do something, say you have to study for your exam. Instead, watch 4 hours of Flight of the Conchords on SurfTheChannel.
Step 16: On the eve of the exam, repent your sloth-like laziness before you go to sleep and vow to wake up early to study some more.
Step 17: Snooze your alarm a couple times. The exam isn’t until 1:30 anyway.
Step 18: Waste your time on mundane details only vaguely related to the exam. Tried and true winners include spending 2 hours trying to find a #2 pencil for your Scantron sheet and trying to guess what the bonus question will be based on jokes the prof has made in class.
Step 19: Walk to your exam room full of false confidence. Meet up with your friends while you wait outside. Repeat rationalization process (steps 11-14).
Step 20: Write the exam.
Step 21: Holy shit
Step 22: Hand in the exam and kick yourself for not studying enough. Resolve to ace every exam from here on out.
Step 23: Receive mark of C+. Shrug your shoulders and say, “Eh, coulda been worse”.
Step 24: Repeat steps 1-23 forty times between freshman and senior year.