5 Steps to Painless Finals

Photo by www.sxc.hu

Photo by www.sxc.hu

Shannon Moss ’11
Staff Writer

Photo by www.sxc.hu

With finals creeping up in less than a week, Staples students are beginning to hibernate into the corners of their rooms, the quiet rooms at the Westport Public Library, or the nooks of Barnes and Noble, all for three reasons: study, study, study. As a junior, I’ve completed over ten finals in my academic career at Staples, and each year I’ve made the same mistakes over and over, so now I will lend you, fellow readers, a helping hand with a few of my finest test preparation tips.

1. Budget your time.

I’ve become far too familiar with the feeling of realization that my math, or Spanish, or English final is in two days and I have not reviewed a single trigonometry formula, a single verb conjugation, a single grammar rule, let alone even kept the notebooks that hold those notes. Don’t do this. If you really want any information to be retained and truly absorbed, you cannot rely on one or two days of looking-but-not-really-looking at your old worksheets. Think about it: the final test consists of all the material you’ve learned in either nine months (a full year course) or four months (a half year course). Your brain needs time to remember that much information.

2. Go to review sessions/extra help.

Your teacher is not offering review sessions just for fun, and it’s not because he/she wants to sit in a classroom for an hour past the end of the school day, or wake up earlier than the usual 5 a.m. to get to class an hour before necessary. They do this to help you succeed, so take advantage of it! One-on-one review time with a teacher is extremely beneficial; you can ask all the questions you want without the fear of other students snickering at a “stupid question” (there are no stupid questions). Plus, if you’re lucky, some teachers might drop a hint here and there–“Focus on this section more, don’t spend time on that section. Trust me.” Trust them. They are not evil and misleading you. Again, they want to help you!

3. Get the right amount of sleep.

I can confidently say from experience that staying up until 4 a.m. the night before a final is the worst idea ever. I can also confidently say from experience that taking Tylenol PM the next night at 7 p.m. to get a “good night’s sleep” is the second worst idea ever. Both leave you disoriented, discombobulated, disorganized, and all the other dis’s in the book. Eight to nine hours of sleep should be your goal in order to be ready to bubble your answers until your pencil, or hand, breaks. Remember that your brain needs to recall all the information from an entire course, so let it peacefully rest and rejuvenate before you put it to the test.

4. Eat before the test.

You do not want to be that kid whose grumbling, gurgling stomach is distracting everyone from reading the problem or question in front of them. It’s loud and annoying for those sitting around you, a faint irritation for those far away, and for you, it’s just embarrassing. But forget about the embarrassment or the nuisance to others, and think about how hard it is to remember the Cold War when there’s a war going on in your stomach, or how hard it is to call to mind the area of a circle when the only circles you can think about are big pizza pies. Even if you aren’t a regular at your breakfast table, just grabbing an apple or a nutrition bar on your way out the door will keep the grumbles away, and give you the energy you need to focus.

5. Forgive and forget.

Once the test is over, forget about it. There is absolutely no need or reason for stressing over that one problem that you know you didn’t get right, or in my case, for my 7th grade math final, skipping four pages of questions. I am still alive and well after receiving a 21% on that final. Your stressful brainwaves will not magically change your answers or turn back time, so forgive yourself for letting your mind slip on a few questions, and forget. Remember that life goes on after finals, but school doesn’t. Rejoice!

Good luck on all of your finals!