You before reading this article.
This year has been nothing if not something we all want to forget. We are so close and almost there. Before we get there, we have 1 tiny thing left to do. That’s right, ACE YOUR FINALS.
Finals play a very important role in your GPA and therefore your college admissions. Seniors — REMEMBER — this semester’s grades absolutely do count, so make sure you ace those finals. Let’s get into some of the common issues and how to go about dealing with them.
Many people have test anxiety. While there are many causes for this, there is one way to deal with it best.
Simulate the test. What’s the best way to prepare for a test? Take one just like it. Actually, take a whole bunch. Simulation experience is a proven method to calm your nerves. Gaining experience acclimates you to the real thing. So, by the time you get into test day, you will feel like you’ve taken the test before, and succeeded. This will give you the confidence you need in order to remove anxiety during the real thing.
Effectiveness here requires some planning. Try to take your first simulation 1 week (2 – 3 days at the minimum) before your actual exam. The reason being you want to give yourself enough time to review and take another sim if your first test result was below your goal. For example, if you get a B on the sim test but you were aiming for an A, then that means you should take another sim test. Try to take as many as you need until you get an A.
This may seem obvious, but in order to do well on your test you have to know the material. While it may be possible to take shortcuts a few times, that’s not sustainable nor conducive to actual learning.
Remember results aren’t optimal when you procrastinate. We’ve noticed that students who procrastinate usually end up with a result that is only satisfactory, be it an A- or a B. We try to give ourselves credit by saying, “Well, I did pretty good for the time I was given.” To be honest, you didn’t. You did pretty okay for the time you gave yourself. Truth is, you knew there was a final coming at the beginning of the school year, and you chose to procrastinate because it was easy.
Same goes for sustainability. More and more tests are cumulative, meaning it depends on your prior working knowledge. So if you cram for a final this semester, and then you need to take another final that’s cumulative next semester, you probably won’t remember the stuff from the first semester because you didn’t actually learn it. You just crammed it for a test. As a result, we see a lot of students tanking in the 2nd semester, getting borderline A’s the 1st and then a B in the 2nd.
Okay, so how to get knowledge even if you don’t feel like you’re learning enough from the teacher?
First, create a study schedule! Despite sounding cliche, it actually works. Just count back at least 2 weeks prior to your test date, and outline which subjects or chapters you want to cover each day. We generally recommend clumping subjects that you already understand well together, and reserving more time or days even for subjects you’re less familiar with.
Next, get some help! The earlier you recognize you need help understanding a concept, the earlier you need to ask for help. Be it your teacher or a trusty friend group (that actually knows what they’re talking about), or a tutor who can help you.
Chances are you don’t know everything you need to know about this test. As a rule of thumb, ask your teacher about the format of the test 2 weeks prior to test day. Gathering as much intel not only prepares you for the real deal, it also boosts your relationship with your teacher, who likely will perceive your asking as proactive.
If your teacher responds with vague answers, like “I’m not sure yet” or “it’ll be multiple choice”, push for more details:
- How many questions will there be?
- Is the test multiple choice or is there also free-response?
- If both, how many questions will there be of each?
- What exactly will be covered on the test?
- Will it include any material from the book?
- What about class notes?
- Will there be anything included on the test that wasn’t covered in class?
- Are there any practice tests or similar material that I should be using to prepare?
- Typically, what do students do well on? How about not so well on?
You might think that by asking teachers all these questions you are being nosy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Remember that teachers want to see you succeed. They will see that you are interested in doing well and will give you as much information they can without being unfair. This includes information they may have forgotten to mention earlier or pre-emptive clarifications that will give you a benefit. This is the biggest action you can take to try and improve your chances at a better grade.
BONUS TIP — Start Learning
The best students never study, or very rarely study. They’re learning, dedicating themselves to understand the material no matter what it is. So by the time test day comes, they don’t need to study, because they’ve put in the time over time to properly learn the material.
That’s it for this week. We hope that this has helped you approach your finals a little bit better. Good luck on all your finals. If you need any help with this or looking forward to next year, please reach out! For a full feature and even more detail, check out our YouTube video about it.
We specialize in youth mentorship and college counseling. From 8th grade to 12th, we have you covered for any stage in your high school career. Schedule a free consultation with us here.
See you soon!