It feels like yesterday when we were walking into the new school year of 2015-2016. Now, it’s January, and we are just about complete with the first term. Months felt like days as I reflect back on the first half of the year. Although many of us are happy that one half of the year is over, we all can’t help but anticipate what is weighing heavy above us as we finish up the term… finals. The word makes every student uncomfortable. The word provokes some level of anxiety within every student. Unfortunately, finals are inevitable. It is a daunting task to study every topic from the beginning of the year. While we are supposed to retain the information we learn for each subject, it is extremely difficult to sit down and take a final without dedicating an abundance of time to study. For many of us, our schedules are packed with extracurriculars, social activities, volunteering, work hours, religious and family obligations, exercising, eating and sleeping. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to find time in the day to study for five finals, but it is essential to make time if you want to succeed. For those of us who do make time to study, finals are still overwhelming. From years of experience I compiled some tips that have helped me do well during finals week.
1. DON’T PROCRASTINATE.
I am not proud to admit that I’m a procrastinator. I consider it one of my greatest weaknesses. Although I do not wait until the night before to start an essay or a project, I do push the envelope by not completing assignments or studying in advance. I usually wait for the day before its due or the day before I have a test. For many of us, procrastination comes naturally – we can’t help it. Well, that’s what I thought before I realized I was the one in control, not an outside force that made me watch Netflix instead of studying for my test. Nevertheless, once you realize your in control of your own habits, they’re easier to break.
2. PREPARE EARLY & ASSESS YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES.
We all know finals occur at the end of January, so start preparing early! Starting early will give you an ample amount of time to study for each subject. Make a list of each subject and under each subject, list topics that were covered from September to June. Then, highlight the topics you struggled with. I like to judge this based off my test grades from each unit. After assessing your strengths and weaknesses for each subject, focus on the ones you had the hardest time with. Once you feel comfortable with the topics you struggled with, continue to brush up on the rest of the topics. You will retain so much more information by studying little by little. While you may get away with cramming the night before for a unit test, it’s just not feasible for a final.
3. REACH OUT, GET HELP.
If you still don’t understand a topic after studying on your own, get help! Consider talking to your teacher about your struggles and make time for a tutoring session. If your teachers are not available, consider asking a friend. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help. When you sit down to take your final, you’ll be happy you did!
4. HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY MIND.
School is important, getting good grades is important, but your health is the most important aspect of your life. Sometimes it is easy to get our priorities mixed up. Whether it is outside influences such as parents or friends, or pressures from social media, we tend to put our physical and mental health farther down on our list of priorities. However, it should be a top priority. Stress and lack of sleep are two negative components to an unhealthy body and mind. Even during finals week, make sure to get an adequate amount of sleep, at least 7-8 hours. Our brains don’t function well on a short amount of sleep. Avoid stress eating by filling up on healthier snacks such as fruit and vegetables. When I’m up late studying, I tend to find myself in the kitchen snacking on chips or cookies to make myself feel better. Unfortunately, stress eating doesn’t solve problems and in many cases only makes it worse. Try to relieve your stress in other ways such as talking a walk, doing yoga, or meditating. It is important to take frequent short study breaks. While breaking, put on some relaxing music and meditate or do some jumping jacks. You don’t have to donate a lot of time or run a marathon because there are many quick and simple ways to destress. Don’t sacrifice your health for a good grade, your health is far more important.
5. NUMBERS DON’T DEFINE YOU.
My last and final tip is, don’t let a number define you. In the case you do poorly on a final, don’t get down on yourself. A grade is solely a number. It does not define who you are or what you’re capable of. Maybe it was a bad testing day, or maybe it was a lack of sleep, or maybe you studied everything except what was on the test, or maybe the subject doesn’t come easy to you. Whatever the case may be, don’t upset yourself over it. Although it is discouraging to do poorly on a test, try to think positively. There are always other opportunities to prove to yourself that you are capable and intelligent. Reflect on ways to improve for the next time a test rolls around. Perhaps you should’ve studied more or asked for help. Use a bad experience and turn it into a positive one. “If you fall down seven times, stand up eight” -Japanese proverb
By Jacqueline Pecoraro