The Final Moment

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Here they come, barreling in as if I hadn't known they were coming for the past four months. Finals are an inevitable pain that accompany the end of every semester. 20% of your entire grade rides on a single test. A gigantic, multiple part, two hour long test. No biggie.

Finals, similar to standardized testing, seem to do more harm than good. Teachers are forced to shove review packets down their students throat along with jamming in that last chapter that finals are interrupting. That leaves the teachers in a tizzy fit and the students in an overwhelmed panic. What a fantastic way to end off a semester.

Instead of having the typical I'm-going-to-fail-and-get-rejected-from-Harvard-and-wind-up-as-an-old-lady-living-alone-in-a-dumpster mindset, trying thinking positively. If you did not spend the entire 20 weeks slacking off, you have already retained more information than you realize. Despite worksheets seeming to be nothing more than busy work, they really help enforce the lessons (unless the worksheets are given as homework, then that changes everything). You have listened to your teacher lecture for the past few months, and assuming you processed a good 75% of it, you have a relatively fair chance at remembering some of the information once finals week hits.

My go-to studying method for finals is the study-the-night-before method. It sounds insane, right? Depending on what kind of student you are, this could be good for you too. The reason this works for me is that I end up avoiding panicking and I remember a good chunk of what I learned throughout the year. For most classes, I tend to get good scores on tests and worksheets and I actually pay attention (you would be amazed how well that works). Since I spend most of the year being a relatively good student, finals automatically prove to be a less stressful time for me. If you keep up on your schoolwork throughout the year, tests and finals are never too big of a deal. If you were one of the students who dozed off or maybe tends to test badly, you might want to try a more proactive approach.

Some classes, honors chemistry for example, might take a bit more time to prepare for than just a few hours. To skip over the overwhelmed phase of finals, I try to study for 20 minutes or so a few nights before finals' week begins. The amount of time you prepare for a test should depend on how easily the subject comes to you. Some classes are relatively easy for me while others take a little more effort.

Studying for finals can be done in many different ways. Maybe you just have to read over your review packet and you are good to go. Or if you prefer a more interactive approach, grab a friend and do flashcards. Another tip that has yet to prove me wrong: write it down. Write down the important facts and information from the review packet and past worksheets, but try to write it down in terms that are tailored to your understanding. This has been my go to survival tip throughout numerous years of testing.

A final tip is to not over-study. I watch multiple friends of mine go through this and it leaves them tired, worried, and actually at a disadvantage. Have a set time each night that you will put away your studying materials and take time to do something you enjoy, such as going on Twitter or reading a book, will relieve some of your stress. Make sure you don't stay up too late though, because being sleep deprived on a test day is a bad idea. Once you wake up on the day of finals, keep in mind that looking pretty is the last of your worries. Eat a breakfast for champions (pancakes) because you don't want to get sidetracked during the test due to a grumbling stomach. Bring your study materials for that day's finals and the upcoming ones. Maybe your teachers will give you extra credit for the review packet they gave out or even provide you with a few minutes to study right before the exam. During the test, I suggest making tiny marks on the Scantron next to the questions you are unsure of. This way you can go back and try to approach the question with a clear mind if you have any extra time afterwards. Once you finish the test, remember to read over it one final time. Are your bubbles filled in? Did you erase the go-back-and-check marks? Are you positive that you did not skip a single question? Even if you bubble in a random answer, you have a 20%-25% of getting it correct. If you are positively finished, turn in the test. Now breathe and silently congratulate yourself for surviving. Now that you had those few seconds of relaxation, I suggest using this quiet time to study for tomorrow's finals.

Good luck on finals and remember, the most important tip I can never stress enough is to not freak out!

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