Finals week is quickly approaching and that only means one thing: frenzied cramming is about to begin. As the semester reaches an end, many students feel increasingly stressed about the looming exams that could lower their grades in a snap. The panic to memorize every bit of information that students have forgotten from the beginning of the year resurfaces.
According to Science Daily, the stress and anxiety that come with studying for finals can hinder the ability to form new memories, a crucial part of studying.
And as many Paly students know, stress can do much more than that — the constant late nights trying to review and the lethargic mornings after do nothing to help one perform better on a big exam.
But just because finals are threatening to take over the lives of tired high schoolers doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to avoid all the mishap. It’s just a matter of taking it one step at a time and preparing efficiently.
Instead of cramming the night before a final, choose to study key material in short, focused sessions before the exam.
This method allows for a better understanding of material. Even if it means starting weeks earlier, setting aside 15 to 60 minutes a day goes far in helping to build memory and retain the information, according to The Princeton Review.
“I try and take breaks or change the location of where I work to stay fresh and keep my attention span. And if it’s a more memorization-based final, then I try and look at Quizlet or other memory games to try and remember.”
Another important tip for studying is to take timely breaks between study sessions to let the learning soak in. Studying for hours at a time can be tiring, boring and at times too much to handle, as most high schoolers already know.
Additionally, like Sinha said, learning through creative, fun methods can have its perks. According to Bottom-Line Performance, game-based learning provides the motivation as well as the practice to recall necessary information from memory.
Several sites such as Quizlet, Kahoot and even Jeopardy offer ways to study. Another way to make studying bearable is for students to reward themselves for accomplishing tasks.
Junior Maya Wilson says she has benefitted from these study tactics.
“I usually just start studying a couple of weekends before finals week, and then I study the week of finals as well. I find that going over my past notes and rewriting stuff that I’ve forgotten or am confused about really helps. This year I want to work on making sure that I’m setting a time limit for how long I study because I find myself studying for almost the whole day which can be stressful.”
Often, students can find certain concepts confusing, especially when relearning material from months ago.
When this happens, a way to retrieve the information is through videos on YouTube or by simply talking with a friend or teacher. Don’t be shy to approach teachers and ask for help.
Similarly, make sure to ask for the setup of the exam long before the actual day so it does not result in stress.
Feel free to question teachers on certain topics and difficulty levels in comparison to past exams.
Also, remember reviewing and redoing old tests can help and can even be good practice for working within time limits.
Even after following these study tips, some students may find the stress is still too much to bear, which can interfere with their our ability to prepare effectively. In that case, relax.
USA Today found exercising is a way to unwind and relieve stress, whether that be through yoga, running or playing a favorite sport with friends. If that’s not your cup of tea, Animal Smart, a science-based organization on animals, says interaction with therapy pets can help increase levels of a stress-reducing hormone called oxytocin.
There are always therapy dogs at Paly during finals week for those who wish to relax with them.
One of the most important things during finals week, however, is to be well-rested and charged for the days filled with long hours of thinking and applying knowledge.
Although students hear this from almost every adult in their lives, it really is crucial to sleep for as much as it takes to feel ready in the morning.
Sleeping helps improve memory. Along with that, taking in healthy “brain foods,” such as vegetables, fruits and dark chocolate can help improve brain function.
It’s a given students may feel the stress and anxiousness of finals week. It’s not something that can be stopped, but it can be controlled.
No matter what, try not to give in to the panic of cramming and all-nighters that are bound to happen; stressing and panicking will not help you perform well on finals.