Finals Are Coming! What do I do?

Finals Are Coming! What do I do?


     For many students the school year is quickly coming to a close. Many college students have completed their academic year or are seeing the end in sight over the next month. High school students are wrapping up their academic year as well as middle and elementary students. Typically, the close to the college and high school courses entails a final exam or final papers or projects. Grades students earn in these courses can have a significant impact on the student. The focus of today’s “Susan’s Two Cents” will be preparing for high school finals.

The first step to this process is having your student take stock of where their grades are at this point in time. Are we sitting comfortably with high “A’s” as we move into finals – grades in excess of 95%? Or, are we borderline? Or, have we dug ourselves into a deep hole that may be difficult to dig out of? This is a time to be realistic and not dwell on the past several months or rehash how you find yourself in the position you are, but to look forward and be proactive. Carefully review your list of assignments and grades to date. Do all of your grades make sense to you? Are there missing assignments that you recollect completing that you have not received credit for? Are there class assignments you completed and turned in, but not received credit for? Perhaps the teacher has a box of unidentified work (you forgot to put your name on your paper!) and you can find assignments there. Maybe you were absent (approved absence) and need to arrange to make-up work or complete missing quizzes or tests. Be proactive! Request a meeting with your teacher to review where you stand and what you can do to improve your situation. Are there extra credit opportunities? If your teacher is difficult to meet with, prepare an email reviewing your concerns and questioning how you can improve your situation. Young high school students may seek assistance from their counselors as well as their parents. Teachers prefer meeting with students directly, but at times a parent or counselor must intervene.

Once you have evaluated where you are at, prepare a list of tasks you should complete by class to prepare for finals as well as stay on top of the current work assigned. Make sure you attend each class and pay attention to the teacher. Listen intently to class lectures, take notes, and complete all assigned classwork. If you do not understand an assignment, ask the teacher for help. Most likely, if you did not comprehend something, plenty of your classmates did not understand either. Turn in all homework assigned. Prepare and study for all quizzes and tests. Above all, make a good impression in classes by paying attention, staying off of your phone, and avoiding disrupting class by chatting with classmates. Make learning and participating in class your priority. The impression you make on the teacher can have an impact on the grade you receive in the class, especially if your grade is borderline. Positive impression – the final “rounding” may go in your favor. Negative impression – the final “rounding” may NOT go in your favor!

Once you have prepared a list of tasks you would like to accomplish to prepare for your exams, organize a schedule to get them done. Be realistic and spread the workload over each day. Get help to assist you with your planning and studying or to teach you material you are not understanding. Do not plan to review six chapters of Biology the night before the exam or to complete a 175 question math review packet in one sitting the day before the exam. No, you are not likely to be able to memorize 250 vocabulary words a day before an exam. Sleeping with your books under your pillow is not the best way to study for exams either.

Here is a brief plan by subject:

English courses – Review all books covered in the semester; review grammar chapters assigned, review vocabulary (utilize cards or Quizlets).

Math courses – Review all chapters covered during the semester and complete chapter tests (found in the math book) as well as any study guides previously assigned; set up a time to review your prior tests with the teacher to identify topics you struggled with.

Science and History courses – Reread or read (if you never read the book to begin with!) assigned chapters and take notes if you did not throughout the semester (a topic for a fall article!), memorize key material.

Foreign Language courses – Review the materials from the entire year as it all builds on itself including practicing speaking for oral exams, review all grammar and vocabulary.

Papers – prepare a timeline to complete the assignment including research, outlining, writing, and then reviewing. Do not plan to do this all in one day.

Please remember that studies show that we recall only 25% of information that we look at once after just seven days, but if we review material each day for a week, we will recall at least 80-85% of the information! A little every day can go a long way!




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