Worries and Advice About Finals Week

Olivia Baker and Jessica Kubert At the beginning of the year, finals week was merely an idea to the freshmen class—we never knew how quickly it would arrive, not to mention the stress associated with it and the difficulty of balancing our social lives with studying. Freshmen tend to be frightened of finals, as it is their first time taking them, and more often than not, their stress levels are off the charts. The freshmen voiced their thoughts, fears, and questions regarding next week’s exams, and their experienced upperclassmen, veterans of the midterms, offer advice.   contributions from Jessie Sulger, Olivia Baker, Bianca Voss, Mary Ellen Mack, Jack Stender, Anna Wolf, Annabel Edwards, Lily Campbell, and Amanda Aprati DEAR SENIORS: I’m scared that I will fail all of them and not pass freshman year and dropout of school and live in a shack on a beach somewhere I’m terrified that I’m going to study really hard for the time coming up to the test and then not remember anything when I sit down to take it. I am scared I won’t be able to breathe while taking a test. Also, how should we study? I’m scared that I’ll have a bad finals week. Which leads to a bad freshman year. Which leads to bad high school career. Which leads to a bad college and a bad job and I’ll end up living alone on the streets of D.C. with stray cats. I’m scared that I won’t be able to finish the whole test or not remember all of the material. I’m scared to ask the teachers questions in the middle of a test. I don’t want it to look like I’m cheating. I’m scared of how the schedule works: what if I miss a final because I didn’t understand the schedule? How should we study for finals? There are many ways, of course, but what seems to be the most effective? I’m really scared of how long the test will be. Not that I won’t finish, it’s that I’ll see the test, how long it will be, and begin stressing while I’m taking the test. I’m scared for the grades to come out and have the teachers reflect on how I did on the final. I’m also scared of getting it back. Finals week definitely seems scary, but I think I’m more scared for the week before. All of our projects are due, and we have lots of tests and assessments. How will I be able to manage these with finals week in mind? I don’t really know what to expect, since this is my first time taking a final. Not knowing what I am walking into or having a prior experience is nerve racking I’m nervous that the grade I get won’t reflect how I actually feel regarding the topic, nor my understanding.   DEAR FRESHMEN:   I’ve had this thought more than once before, and each time I’ve been told it was crazy, but with the weight that is put on finals, it’s hard not to imagine the worst case scenario. Don’t let the chatter and panic about the upcoming exams send you in a downward spiral. The absolute worst possible thing that could happen because is that your grade goes down a little bit, and, in the grand scheme of things how bad is that? It is scientifically proven that too much stress messes with memory. Your brain can’t handle too much pressure and will eventually shut down if you worry too much about your finals. But no stress won’t do you any good either. There is an optimal amount of stress that exists—and I am yet to find that sweet spot—that will keep you focused and motivated during finals studying. A good indicator of too much stress physical and/or mental fatigue. That’s a good time for a nap or a break. I am fairly confident you will be able to breathe while taking the test but if, for some reason, you can’t, make sure to let the teacher know. I can almost guarantee it won’t impact your grade and you will be allowed another chance. As for studying, I do best when I can see everything I need to know out in front of me. I like to make handwritten study guides with the big concepts from the year and ask a friend or family member to quiz me on what I need to know. For in-class essays there’s not much you can do to prepare except try to think of questions the teacher might ask and write something brief about what you would write for that question. Your finals will only dictate your week. You have 80% of your grade that matters way more than this one final. And no matter how well you do, freshman year will not determine the rest of your high school career. And besides, colleges love to see progress, so if you start at a low point that only gives you more room to improve and show everyone how much you’ve grown and improved over the years. Sometimes we forget that our teachers want us to do well. They don’t want to trick us or make tests that are impossible to finish or ask us to memorize everything they’ve ever said in every day of class for the whole semester. Teachers create tests that are doable and that they believe you will do well on. ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS!! If you are confused or unsure about something during a test it will never hurt you to ask. If you are nervous they might think you’re trying to cheat (which 99.9% of the time they know you’re not) then prompt your question with ““I’m not sure that you can answer this but…” If there is something they can help you with, let them. Your question might be extremely valid and by pointing it out to the teacher you could be impacting not only your final but everyone else’s in the class as well. The finals schedule is ridiculously confusing but I suggest printing it out, writing in what class you have when, and then taking a picture of it and making it your home screen. The finals schedule exists under downloads in the US Students group on RomanNet. After you turn in your final there’s nothing left for you to do. So don’t stress about getting it back because you know you did the best you could and whatever result you get is fine and really won’t impact your grade or your life all that much. Use the weekend for finals studying. The previous week is for final projects, then dedicate the weekend to studying. You really don’t need more than two days of good, sit-down preparation for finals so don’t make yourself worry about two big things at the same time.  ]]>