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Prelim, prelims…what are they!?

By Sofia Vila

Here at Cornell we have a very unique examination system. A “Prelim” is the Cornell word for exams. Each course at Cornell has about 2 or 3 prelims per semester and a final exam. As my first semester here at Cornell comes to an end, I look back at everything I have been able to accomplish in such little time. What seemed like forever during those long nights of studying now comes down to only 3 final exams. My first prelim ever was in Calculus, and I had no idea what to expect. I obviously knew this was not going to be like my high school AP Calculus tests, I mean it’s Cornell; they will find a way to push you to think outside the box during an exam. I studied hard. I did every problem in the book and some practice prelims the professor posted on the Calculus web site, and I went to review sessions. When the day of the test came, I was extremely nervous, even more so knowing that the test was at 7 at night, something I had never done before. I finally arrived at the examination site, a huge auditorium in Statler Hall, so overwhelming. I would be taking the test with about 400 other students. I sat in the front row so I wouldn’t get distracted and began my test. When I left I was so relieved I had finished, I was also scared as to how I did in the test but it all turned out okay. Each test I took only made me improve my studying habits and allowed me to grow as both a student and a test taker.

My first round of prelims was rough, but I had a very nice vacation after them since we had fall break the weekend right after my last prelim. My second set of prelims went a lot better, I was less stressed and planned ahead for each exam. I now know what to expect for each course and how to adequately study for them. Currently, I face the real and final challenge: FINALS. All of my finals are cumulative, which means I will be tested on everything we learned this semester for each course, it will be tough, but hopefully all of my previous preparation will help me to do well in them and my motivation to go back home for Christmas will also help me study!

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