The Final Countdown: How to be ready for exams

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By Jerry Zhu, News Editor

Stressing over finals? Having an existential crisis in the last review day? Here are 5 tips to prepare for finals while keeping your sanity.

1) Get organized

You’ve collected a lot of material over the year. From introductory paragraphs to that 15 page note packet, your teachers have made you do a lot of work and expect that the materials they’ve taught you have been mastered. So get organized. Get a three inch binder or large folder and sort your notes, worksheets, extra practice problems in order of chapters. Get rid of all the extra “fluff” that you might have gotten such as extra credit problems or additional readings since you likely won’t be tested on those areas. You’ll find that once you have everything sorted out, it’ll be much easier to review large chunks of materials and it’ll be easier to focus in on those harder sections. Take the time to invest in the 30 minutes to organize and you’ll be rewarded with a much less stressful review period.

2) Be smart

Ok. So you’re saying to yourself that you might not have been born a genius but that doesn’t mean you have to do bad on your final. Be smart and resourceful with your studying. Focus on reviewing sections that you are getting a large percentage of questions wrong on and ignore the easier questions that you find you’re getting a lot right. While it is always nice to be able to review all the content you’ve covered over the past year, realize that time and focus are scarce commodities and that you need to maximize the benefits from your review sections. If you’re really stuck without time, focus on reviewing tests and quizzes that you did poorly on as teachers usually pull content from their assessments on their finals.

3) Reflect

Give yourself time before each review period to plan out what content you need to cover. Come up with a game plan as to how you’re doing in each subject and what needs more work. Experiment with different studying techniques such as using flashcards, quizlet, quick skimming, educational music videos or collaborative work with friends, but make sure you reflect on how well each approach is working and if you are actually learning the content.

4) Give yourself breaks

Make time to give yourself short, 10-15 minute breaks after hour long study periods. While it might seem like a good plan at first to cram seven hours worth of studying the day before the test, usually you’ll find yourself exhausted and frustrated after working 2-3 hours without a rest. Breaks offer you a good time to reflect and rest after studying hard concepts or working long problems. However, be aware not to give yourself too many breaks or too long of a break as you might get sidetracked onto an aimless mobile game that will probably not help you ace that final.

5) Relax, it’s just a test

In the end, make sure you realize that the final is just a test. It’s not a super long or extremely long exam like the SAT’s and it will probably not be deciding factor whether or not you’ll get into college. Your teachers realize that you’ve worked hard this year and the final is just an assessment to make sure that you understand a bit of the content they’ve taught you this year. In most cases, finals are curved and won’t change your grade too significantly. However, do study for them a bit. You’ll do fine. Summer is almost here, just get through this last hill.