Tips for Tackling LSE Finals
Studying at LSE is quite different from studying at Babson. Firstly, courses are huge. When I was at LSE, two of my courses comprised more than 500 students (the two courses are Principles of Finance and Macroeconomic Principles). The professors actually needed to have lectures in the theatre, with students sitting in front of the stage like audience. Each course has lecture twice per week. After the lectures, there will be classes (once per week) held by PhD students. Secondly, there is not as much homework as we usually have at Babson, and homework is usually not graded. Generally, class teachers will go over the homework questions during the class instead of teaching new stuffs. Thirdly, courses at LSE are mostly on a year-long basis. Within the year, students do not have any midterms or quizzes to keep them on track. Therefore, studying at LSE is more on a self-initiated basis. Students do not receive much one-to-one focus.
As I was used to Babson’s teaching styles – having many quizzes, midterms, and much homework – to keep myself on track, I felt lost when I was studying at LSE, especially given that I took two economics courses (the course Macroeconomic Principles has a failure rate of over 20%) and one Finance course in addition to my “entry-level liberal arts course”. Without having quizzes or midterms to evaluate how much knowledge I had absorbed, I sometimes lost track of my study progress. More importantly, LSE is at the center of London, and there is quite a lot for me to explore every day. As a result, when the Easter break ended (the last break at LSE during the term time), I was shocked that my exams were coming so soon that I did not think I had time to prepare. Honestly, I freaked out for a few times during the summer term, known as the “final preparation period.” Luckily, I was able to manage the finals at the end (though painfully), and I have concluded multiple tips for those who may find themselves suffering during the final exam period at LSE.
Tips for Tackling LSE Finals:
1. Start your final preparation early. Since most courses at LSE are year-long courses, it is not easy to review for the finals in a short period of time. I once asked one of my LSE friends who majors in Actuarial Science about how long he usually starts his final preparation. He said that he would start at least two months before his final exams. However, if you study very hard during the term time, you may need less time to review for the exam.
2. Have a study plan and prioritize your work. Generally, LSE students take four full-unit courses each year. Nevertheless, as general course students (i.e. students who study abroad at LSE) enjoy the flexibility of selecting courses across different departments, sometimes they might have half-unit courses (usually maths courses) and take more than four courses for the year. Therefore, it is very important for you to plan your review process based on the exam dates. If you review too early for an exam, you might risk forgetting some of the topics at the day of the exam. More importantly, you should prioritize your work. You might have “easy courses” and “hard courses” (you better do!). Prioritize your review for the hard ones or parts that you do not understand the most, as they will take you more time to digest the materials.
3. Closely manage your pressure. It is common to freak out during the final preparation period, especially at LSE. I freaked out once because I had my two hardest exams back-to-back (Principles of Finance on Wednesday and Macroeconomics Principles on Thursday), and in the evening right before my Macroeconomics Principles exam, I found myself exhausted and my mind went blank under such huge pressure. It is fine to have pressure during the exam period, but do not let the pressure destroy you. Try to calm yourself down as soon as possible by taking a walk, having a good meal, or even having a nap. Our brains function slowly and poorly under huge pressure, so you should release your pressure frequently. For those who live at Bankside House (student residence hall), try to have a walk from Bankside to National theatre along the Thames River. You will be amazed by how beautiful it gets at that time and thus forget your pressure!
4. I hope you all survive your LSE finals next year!
Take a look at your “home” during the final exam period : )