Start studying for final exams now!

Contributed by Cindi Keenan.

With first semester high school exams comfortably behind us we look forward to the new semester with a sense of renewal and energy. Students are all caught up on their homework, the first set of assignments and tests are somewhere in near the future, and notebooks are still neatly organized. Let’s maintain the positive energy that comes with starting fresh by encouraging students to start planning for June’s exams. Yes, I said it – start thinking about final exams! Here are a few ideas that students can do every day to make studying at the end of the semester less stressful.

Get organized. Students should use one binder per course. This helps students to know that they have all of the course material together in one place when it comes time to look for that important note or worksheet. Students are also encouraged to use dividers to separate units within each course. All classroom notes, worksheets, homework, quizzes, assignments and assessments for the unit should be kept together, and clearly separated from the unit before and after. Students should also keep the course syllabus (the handout from the first day of class) in a safe location. This provides valuable information about the topics that will be presented throughout the course and most likely to appear on the final exam!

Attempt all assigned homework. Students should write down their thoughts for each question that has been assigned. The teacher needs to see that students have made an honest effort to think about, and apply, what they’ve learned. Even if they experience difficulty with the task, they should make a list of questions to ask the teacher in order to clarify concepts. For subjects like Math, checking answers in the back of the textbook, marking them correct, and identifying questions that they need to ask your teacher to help you with will provide valuable feedback to the student when assessing their understanding of the concepts. Student can also make sure to learn the correct answers for any quiz or test questions for which they did not receive full marks in order to understand how to approach similar questions on the final exam.

Review the learning goals. Teachers should have a clear goal for the learning that takes place in the classroom each day. It is the students’ responsibility to take 10 minutes at the end of each day to think about, and reflect on, what they were supposed to learn. Was it … a historical date? … a mathematical formula? … a scientific procedure? … the resolution to a conflict in a short story and how it relates to society? Encourage students to have a separate sheet of paper for each unit where they write down a couple of key points every day to demonstrate they understood the learning goal for the lesson. This piece of paper is the start of a summary (cheat sheet) with formulas, diagrams, and other key pieces of information that will become very helpful at the end of the term when studying for their final exam.

A few small changes to daily routines now can make a world of difference when it comes time to study at the end of the semester.


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