ALTHOUGH the school year will end in a few weeks, high school students still have one more hurdle to overcome – the final exams.
For students of all ages, final exams can cause a lot of anxiety since much of a student’s semester grade relies on their success on this important test. The key to easing that anxiety and earning a good passing grade on the tests is to plan ahead, have a focused study plan, use proper studying techniques in the weeks prior to the exams, and to follow a test-taking strategy on the big day. Below are nine steps students can follow to prepare for their big day:
1. Take a hard look at your course syllabus to determine which of the covered material you know well, and with which you need more help. Use all of your class notes and the textbook for your preparation.
2. Highlight key terms, concepts and people in your notes and textbook. Make documents that reflect this information such as thinking maps or some other visual aid. It may seem like a lot, but the practice of reading and writing the items will help you remember them. It is a good idea to start assembling these lists as early in the course as possible rather than a few days before the exam, when the task will be overwhelming.
3. Make flashcards to assist you in learning important terms and their meanings. This may seem elementary, but the method works for all ages. You can test yourself throughout the course to maintain your knowledge.
4. Create a study guide based on your notes and any other information that will be included on the exam to act as a map of the areas you need to study. If possible, in addition to the book, use past tests and assignments to help create it. You can make the guide in the form of questions, or you can simply have the information presented in an outline form.
5. If time permits, meet with your teachers in a student-teacher consultation, and share your outline with them to make sure you are on the right track.
6. Form a study group with fellow students or join an existing one. Studying in a small group can allow the members to compare notes and share studying or learning strategies. Quizzing each other can be a fun way to cover course information. Belonging to a study group will also help you to get explanations of concepts that you do not understand.
7. Study independently the night before the exam. This is not the time for all-night cramming sessions. By preparing for the exam weeks in advance, the final night should be dedicated to going over the study guide and other notes. It should be a time of refreshing your mind, not trying to comprehend or understand information.
8. Make sure you have all needed supplies for the exam before going to bed the night before. This may include pencils, paper, calculators, extra erasers, or any other items your instructor requires.
9. Get a good night’s sleep and have a healthful breakfast on the morning of the exam. Try doing some relaxation techniques like deep breaths, yoga or listening to music. This will help you start the exam with a calm, focused mind.
By following the steps above, and not procrastinating, you should be well-prepared for your final exam, and do well on it. Next week, I will share the strategies to use on the different kinds of tests teachers give.
Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 22 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at]yahoo.com with your questions or comments.