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Finals Tips for Freshman

This article is mostly for freshmen new to high school who, like myself, were terrified of taking their first set of finals. I never believed when upperclassmen said it wasn’t as bad as I thought, and I pressured myself about studying before winter break even began. Here are some tips for freshman or anybody struggling with stress and studying during finals season.

Keep All Your Class Materials (yes, all of them)

Even if you’ve passed up that chemistry unit, or think you know all there is to know about modern globalization, do not, I repeat, do not throw away any of your class material! Worksheets, notes, study guides, quizzes, and tests can help you out in reviewing all of the information you’ll need to remember for your finals. Plus, it will also help you put together a study plan of what you need to know based on what you’ve focused on in class, which leads me to my next step. 

Have a Plan

I’m sure anyone whose taken any kind of big test has heard this before, but I cannot stress this enough. Knowing what and when you’re going to study has a big impact on your performance, plus it helps your mental health in that having a study plan gives you the feeling of control over your life in such a stressful time. For myself, I create a timetable schedule of dates and times after school a week and a half before finals planning out exactly what I need to study and when. Spanish at 3:30, Geometry at 4:00, etc. This is where keeping your material throughout the semester comes in handy. Spent a full two weeks on past tense -ar verbs in Spanish? You’ll probably want to set a date to review those. Writing down set times for studying also helps you to commit to actually doing it.

Manage Your Phone

This one is especially important. Growing up in a digital age, we’ve been attached to technology for our whole lives, and while some people may see that as a bad thing, I wholeheartedly disagree. Sometimes technology can be your best friend when studying (I’d recommend checking out Quizlet for any of your troubles). However, when you have all of your notes and materials ready to study, constant notifications from Snapchat and Twitter can weigh you down. I’d recommend putting your phone away from you and locking it as you study. Studying from paper as often as possible can also help you keep focused, as if you’re on a computer reviewing dates, the rest of the highly distracting Internet is right at your fingertips. Save your class handouts and print out (if possible) as much as you can.

Figure Out What Works For You

This tip may get some of you questioning why you even sought help from an online article if you’ve got to do so much work, but hear me out. Most of you might already have the answer to this, you just don’t know it. Finding the right method and setting for studying is key when you’re trying to remember all of the information you’ve learned over the past four months. If you are more focused while listening to music, listen to music! If you absorb information better visually or auditory, structure your studying around that. A binder full of notes and schedules can’t do much for you is you keep trying to study at a noisy dinner table while it’s dark out. 

Teachers Are Your Best Friends

Even if you loathe your math teacher, or think biology is the worst class in the world, now especially is not the time to show it. If you need help understanding a concept, reach out for help! No matter how scary or unhelpful a teacher seems, you can never be sure until you try. The worst that can happen if you’re at the same place you started, and the best is that you gain newfound understanding of a subject just in time for finals. Take advantage of any study guides, study halls, or office hours your teachers make available to you. They’re the ones who relayed the information in the first place, and they’ll know what to help you on in order for you to succeed. 

Limit Your After-School Activities

If you’re a kid like me who has clubs nearly every day, or if you’ve just got one group you go to, limit what you do after school during finals that is not studying. Sure anime club may be outstandingly fun, but you can afford to miss two weeks of it before and during finals to prioritize your studying. You can satisfy your need for social interaction by forming study groups with friends you know will help you keep focused and really work on retaining the material. Time management and prioritizing studying over other more recreational or social activities, be it hanging out with friends or spending half an hour on Instagram, is crucial in reviewing all the information deeply enough for you to be confident in your exams. 

Take Time To De-Stress

I know that with all the pressure from yourself, teachers, and parents, finals season can feel overwhelming and terrifying. You thin the best thing to do is stress yourself out over it so much that it becomes the only thing you think about. I was that kid and trust me, it did not go well in the long run. I was tired all the time and even got sick after finals from all the stress. Yes, those kinds of things can actually hurt your body. Amidst all the cramping and the note-taking, remember that your grade does not define your self worth. Remember to take even a few five minutes breaks between study sessions to eat a snack, walk around your house, stretch, or even just close your eyes for a minute. Letting your body heal and get ready for these tests and well as your mind is essential.

Remember You Already Know The Material

This one goes hand in hand with my rule about de-stressing. Remember that at the end of the day, all of these finals cover things you’ve already learned in class. Whether it was concepts you were really good at or things you barely understood at all, nothing on these finals should be unfamiliar. Your teachers have already built a solid base of knowledge in what you need for these exams. You do not need to retain new information, so if you feel confident in one subject you can easily shift your focus to another. Remember that that’s all this is: review

Keep Calm and Carry On

If you’ve done all you can studying, have asked for help, and have kept track of your time, you’ll be all right. Again, I myself was a ball of nerves and anxiety my entire freshman year, and nothing anyone said to me helped. You yourself have to realize that as important these exams are, you can only do your personal best, and everything will be okay in the end. These exams are not as bad as you think, but don’t let that deter you from studying!

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