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The Ultimate Guide to Studying for Final Exam Week

Student Life

With finals coming around for many students around the world, this can be a very busy time for most. Students who have never had a finals week before might be confused or anxious about the best ways to study, particularly with dozens of exams piling up. As intimidating as it may seem, finals week can be relaxing, even fun, if you prepare for it in the right way. Here are a few tips on the best ways to study for finals week!

Decide On Target Grades

Of course, the first thing you want to do is decide on target grades for every course you’re taking. Look at your current grade, and from there, decide on a reasonable final grade to aim for. Do not go overboard, trying to achieve something that is way out of reach, but also do not settle for a lower grade when you could achieve something better. Once you’ve decided on target grades, you should know what grades you want to achieve on your final exam or paper, as well as which courses may be the most challenging.

Make Study Plans

For each of your courses, make study plans for the two weeks before finals, so you can begin preparing for them early on. Sketch out a general outline of your study plan, whether it’s the process you will take in writing your paper or the process you will take in studying for your exam. Whatever it is, make everything as detailed and as precise as you can so you can’t try to talk yourself into procrastinating later on. Make every little goal clear, so you know where you should be at any given time.

Talk to Teachers

Sometimes, you will feel confused about the final work you should be doing for a particular course. If you have questions, instead of putting them aside, ask your teachers as soon as you can so your confusion can be clarified. Remember that your teachers are always there to give you advice, so whenever you want them to look over your work or explain a problem to you, be sure to ask them! Take advantage of every spare moment before your final paper or exam to ask your teachers anything you need to know.

Take Study Breaks

Take a ton of breaks during your long study sessions. Make sure you aren’t sitting at your desk into the late hours of the night for hours on end. Even if you do have a lot of studying to do, it’s far better to space it out with five or ten-minute breaks than to go at it for hours and hours without pause. At that late hour in the night, your brain will no longer absorb new information or comprehend the material well. Taking a quick break, even for just a few minutes, will help you come back feeling more refreshed.

Hang Out With Friends

Remember that even if it’s finals week, you shouldn’t let the stress of school take over your entire life. Make sure that you are hanging out with your friends every day, and not completely burrowing away to study by yourself. Talking to other people will suck you out of the state of dread you might sink into in the midst of finals week. And trust me, it’ll make you feel much better to know that you aren’t the only one absolutely dying from schoolwork.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

I definitely know what it’s like to sacrifice sleeping in favor of studying—most high schoolers have gone through this at some point. But don’t give into the urge to skip out on sleep, particularly the night before an exam. Make sure you are well-prepared before the exam, that way you won’t be freaking out and studying in a rush the night before. Go to sleep early, set a ton of alarms, review your notes in the morning, and head out to take your finals!

Don’t Panic

Despite planning meticulously, there is, of course, a chance that things will go wrong. You might find out that you forgot to study a particular unit on your math test or that you forgot to write a particular piece of your history research paper. In that case, do not panic. Simply try to do the best you can with everything you do know. Don’t focus on the things you don’t know or the things you don’t remember—focus on everything you have studied, and it will not only make you more confident, it will make you more likely to do well on your finals.

Don’t Overthink Afterward

Finals week, or finals day, is likely crammed with final exams and papers for different classes. They’re one after the other, with barely a break in between, so you cannot spend time freaking out about a test you’re already done with when you have another test to be worrying about. No matter how you think you did, don’t let past exams or papers you’re already done and over with mess with your performance later on. You can freak out after finals week is over, but before then, just focus on the coming finals.

Now, you should be well-prepared for your finals week! Remember to start studying well ahead of time and to maintain balance in your life through the chaos. Good luck—I’m sure you’ll do really well!

Angeline Zhao
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Angeline Zhao is a tenth-grader at Phillips Academy Andover. She loves journalism, competition math, teaching, and playing card games. Angeline often spends hours overanalyzing books and binge-watching shows like Gilmore Girls and Brooklyn 99.