"Better to stop short than fill to the brim.
Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.
Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.
Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.
Retire when the work is done.
This is the way of heaven."
Lao Tzu, sixth century B.C. sage
The rain, the breeze and the yellow leaves at the University of Alaska Anchorage are not the only indication of fall. The first weeks in October for many unprepared college students consist of late night coffee binges, crossed fingers and last minute cramming sessions for midterms. No matter how many times the material for an exam is covered, it never seems like enough in the final minutes before taking the test.
The disciplined way to prepare for a course is to slowly digest the information, instead of trying to memorize the terms and concepts an hour before the exam. Starting from the first week of school and cumulatively studying until the day of the test will prevent a stressful cramming session and allow the night before to be sleep easy.
The difficulty, though, does not rest in preparing for one course, but in prioritizing between different courses, to give each an equal amount of study time.
Lao Tzu essentially says to not allow oneself to get so over worked that the situation becomes unmanageable. Contrary to staying up late the night before a test, it may be in the best interest of a student to go to bed and receive sufficient rest. Then their mind can properly function the next day on the test. A certain degree of information may be crammed by staying up late, but last minute studying unfortunately isn't always effective.
Sometimes seniors are found in 100-level courses thinking and believing that the course will pose no difficulty. Already expecting an `A' in the course, the senior puts off course material until the time comes to take the test. With an uneasy feeling leaving the testing period, the senior awaits the exam's return, only to have received a satisfactory or low grade.
According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, tests usually consist of “a series of questions, problems or physical responses designed to determine knowledge, intelligence or ability.” Tzu might suggest that if one over studies, it might in fact hinder their performance on a test. Although many would argue that there is no such thing as over studying, one must carefully balance the time spent studying for one class and not the other.
As the old saying goes, don't put all your eggs in one basket.