For many high schoolers, finals week is one of the most stressful experiences during their academic careers. Having to demonstrate a course-full of knowledge in one test can be fairly intimidating, which is why it is necessary that you make use of the time you have before your exams to ensure that you do the best you possibly can. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you as a student can ensure that you are able to go into these exams feeling confident and prepared.
1. Create a Study Schedule
Creating an effective study schedule for your finals is arguably the most important way to ensure you do well. The challenge of balancing your extracurricular activities as well as the additional schoolwork can be overwhelming, but being able to utilize every second of your day is key to doing well.
When creating your schedule, there are two main questions that you want to ask yourself: Which of my exams will be the most difficult? Which of my exams is the closest? The answers to these questions will formulate an idea of how you should organize your studying routine. If you have your toughest exam first, then you should focus on that first and then transition to the following tests. This way, you are not coming to the last-minute realization that you have not studied enough for your AP Chemistry test, resulting in you cramming in information the night before the exam.
Another important factor to consider when crafting your schedule is avoiding overstudying as well as understudying. This means that you don’t want to study for as little as 30 minutes a day, but you also don’t want to be studying for six hours a day. Being able to study for at least 1-3 hours a day, depending on your schedule, will be beneficial as you are not overworking your brain. Another key factor to remember is giving yourself some time to relieve yourself of the stress of finals. In other words, try to give yourself a day off over the weekends if needed to prevent yourself from burning out and feeling unnecessarily exhausted.
2. Review Previous Quizzes and Tests
Some of the best resources to look back to when studying for your final exams are previous tests and quizzes. Since these assessments are used to evaluate your knowledge of each unit, they are great to look back to for a general idea of what you should remember. This way, if you don’t have enough time to look back on all of your homework assignments, you can use these assessments to have a generalized form of information that summarizes what you need to recall for each unit.
3. Change Your Environment From Time to Time
When studying, it is never ideal to always study in the same place. The reason for this is because if you are constantly studying in the same place without ever changing your environment, you are more likely to get tired quicker and burned out. Changing your environment will allow you to have a different setting to work in, ultimately preventing yourself from becoming too comfortable. Some people, for example, study in their room. The problem with studying in your room is that you are more likely to get too comfortable and begin to lie down or watch Netflix. Furthermore, it is essential to study in a room that is quiet and remote from any distractions such as cell phones and tv so that you can stay focused throughout the whole study session.
Another thing to consider is the time of the day you study. For some people, studying in the early morning or later at night is most effective because there aren’t as many distractions, and it is easier to stay focused. The main reason for this is because if you study during the middle of the day, you are more likely to have to disrupt your studying session to help your family with chores, answer important texts and phone calls, and more.
4. Form Study Groups
Forming study groups is a great way to recall prior information easier and to create study guides. If you round up some of your friends in your classes, you can form a group in which you can work together to create a study guide for all of the information pertaining to the class. Having multiple people to study with will allow you to create study guides quicker by splitting up topics and concepts, as well as recalling important pieces of information that you would not have remembered if you studied alone. In addition, having a group to work with will allow you to have an additional resource to ask for help, especially when you are unsure about a specific concept or topic.
5. Pre-Finals Habits
One issue that people have with finals is the false idea that they should stay up past their bedtime to cram in last-minute information the day before the exam. There are a number of reasons why this is simply not a good idea, especially given that doing so can create high levels of stress and result in lack of sleep. It has been proven many times that getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep will ensure optimal performance, so it is important that you take this into consideration and prevent yourself from being sleep deprived the day of the exam. In addition, it is also encouraged that you try to prevent studying two hours before you go to sleep the night of the final. This way, you give yourself time to relax and transition to preparing to go to sleep, and it will also prevent you from developing pre-test anxiety and stress.
Another important factor to consider is your diet prior to the test. When eating right before you have to take an exam, it is essential that you avoid eating too little, but also evade eating too much. This way, you are not going into the test feeling nauseous or lightheaded, but you’re also not going into the exam feeling overstuffed and groggy. It is encouraged that you eat foods that are abundant in carbs for energy, and avoid processed foods with fats and sugars. The best healthful food choices to eat on exam day are nuts, eggs, yogurt, and cheese as well as milk, oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, apple, and other fruit. Nuts and seeds are also good pre-test snacks as they help boost brain activity. In addition, it is important that you stay hydrated and drink as much water as possible to prevent fatigue and lightheadedness.
There is no doubt that finals week is stressful. Having to recall course loads of knowledge can be challenging and anxiety-provoking, which is why it is important that you take the protocols necessary to prevent yourself from stressing out the day before your exams. Being able to utilize your time effectively and taking advantage of the resources you have is vital when preparing for these tests, so get studying and good luck!