Jorge Cham/PhD Commics
Jorge Cham/PhD Commics

Finals Week in Graphs and Charts

Jorge Cham/PhD Commics
Jorge Cham/PhD Commics

Some students are through with finals week already. Congratulations to you! Others are in the midst of one test after another, and a few are looking forward (heh) to finals next week. I could give you advice on how to get through it, but no one takes advice about these things seriously. Either you have what it takes to get through it, or you just barely survive it. Here's how finals week usually goes.

Looking Ahead to Finals Week

Yeah, you need to study. You know it. I know it. It's awful.

You need a strategy. The flowchart entitled How Should You Study for Finals? may help, but from personal experience, I honestly doubt it.

The Day Before the Exam

You've put off studying. Or maybe you didn't, but you are convinced that you don't know anything about the subject you'll be tested on tomorrow. That's okay, you can cram all night.

Time Set Aside to Study

The time in which you should be studying is the time that other things tend to take over your brain. This pie chart comes from Doghouse Diaries.

And procrastination takes over. There's nothing like a looming deadline to make you want to do something -anything- besides what you are supposed to be doing.

The Night Before

You can't think about the single subject before you. You are too focused on the overwhelming task ahead and the scariness of the word "finals." And some way to make it all go away.

About 2AM, you run into a wall. Your mind refuses to absorb the contents of the course. It's full of other stuff. Stuff that makes no sense.

Unless you're one of those people who really hit their stride when the pressure is on. I've always said, "If it weren't for the last minute, I'd never get anything done." Then your allnighter will look like this timeline from Jorge Cham at PhD Comics.

Then again, if you're NOT one of those folks who work best under pressure, you may find your body succumbs before you've barely started cramming.

The worst is when you decide the best thing would be a little nap, and then you sleep through the night. This happens to more students than you'd think.

Exam Day

It's usually very quiet during the exams. The sounds you hear should reassure you that you aren't the only one who is totally unprepared.

You encounter questions that you don't recall from the lectures, the text, the assigned reading, or the study guide. Where does this stuff come from?

The faculty obviously gets a real kick out of designing exams this way.

If you aren't sure you you scored well on the test, there's no harm in adding a little something just to see if it works.

However, you should also assume that your professor surfs the 'net as much as anyone else. Cite your sources! See more funny exams at College Humor.

Then Comes the Day

Sooner or later, your trial will be over. Keep focusing on that glorious day. And good luck.

Live Smarter
How to Spot a Dishonest Data Visualization

Just like words, numbers can lie—and misleading graphs are a common vehicle of deception used to dupe otherwise discerning shoppers, voters, or newspaper subscribers. These dishonest data visualizations can be difficult to spot, but by watching the TED-Ed video below, you can learn how graph makers twist statistics by distorting the scale, withholding relevant context, and more. That way, you’ll be able to filter the facts from the falsehoods the next time you encounter a chart that looks too good to be true.

This Interactive Graphic Predicts How Many Years You Have Left to Live

No one knows for sure how long they have left, but a visualization from Flowing Data’s (prolific and ever interesting) Nathan Yau can calculate the odds in a way that’s both terrifying and totally fascinating.

As Yau writes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women in the United States have an average life expectancy of 81 years and 2 months, while men have one of 76 years and 5 months. While that alone could be used as a semi-reliable predictor of your mortality, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Yau’s graphic takes data from the Social Security Administration to simulate your possible lifetimes, in a way that feels a bit like you’re watching several parallel universe timelines play out with your fate taking the form of a falling dot.  

To start, users input their age and sex—as CityLab notes, “there are only 'male' and 'female' options, since that’s what the SSA has data for”—and from there, the simulation starts to run through possible outcomes, accumulating the data at the bottom in a handy chart.

Not surprisingly, the likelihood of death increases with age, and for someone around age 50, life expectancy becomes most uncertain. But something totally unexpected happens when you start running the program from someone 70 or older. Yau writes: “Life expectancy increases and the balls tend to drop farther past the overall life expectancy point. That is, as you shift into later years, life is like, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good at this aging game. Better than most. You’re probably going to live longer than the average person.’”

After letting the program run, the data seemed to suggest something I already sort of knew to be true: I’ll probably die in my 80s. Still, there’s a whole series of other possibilities—ranging from 30 to 110—that are the ones I’ll keep thinking about long after closing the browser tab.

[h/t Visual News]


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