Finals week is fast approaching, and for many this means all-nighters and lots of caffeine.
Whether it’s lack of preparation or lack of confidence in what they’ve learned, most students dread finals long before the testing starts.
Depending on the classes one is taking, finals can either seem like a complete trainwreck or only slightly bearable.
Junior Kathleen Larche said in an email interview that her hardest classes to prepare for are chemistry and history “because they have the most material to remember.”
“Sciences are really stressful, there’s a lot of lab work and that’s just the nature of the class,” said school guidance counselor, Mrs. Sascha D’Angelo who agrees with Larche.
Some teachers give out study material to help students cover all the things they’ve learned through the semester and ensure students do not forget anything important.
Larche says that “some teacher provide review packets,” but if they don’t, she just uses her notes she has taken over the course of the year.
Math teacher, Mrs. Mary Gowan said she provides access to old exams, help with individual units that students struggle with and also practice finals.
She also reviews the week prior to the test with warm-ups to start every class and then allows two full days before the final for review only.
Mrs. Gowan tells her students to really focus on what they don’t know rather than what they are already comfortable with. She also recommends students come for extra help.
For many students, balancing study time with sleep is a difficult task. Many think it’s better to review as much as possible and sleep when finals are over, but Mrs. D’Angelo disagrees.
“It’s more important to go to bed, you’re not gonna learn anything extra at 1a.m., and nothing good happens after midnight,” said Mrs. D’Angelo who makes sure to give her students this advice when they visit her before finals.
In a 2012 Time Magazine article about the effects of staying up late and cramming instead of going to bed, study author Andrew J. Fuligni, explained that data shows kids who stay up to study are more likely to have problems understanding material at school and may also do worse on tests or quizzes, which is the problem they were trying to avoid all along.
Fuligni, who is also professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA said, “If you’re really sacrificing your sleep for that cramming, it’s not going to be as effective as you think, and it may actually be counterproductive.”
Larche said she will spend as much of her time studying as she can, usually “five to six hours a night.”
Her best advice for finals is to not “procrastinate, keep your notes organized, and take study breaks to refocus.”
Mrs. D’Angelo agrees when it comes to not procrastinating. She recommends to students who are stressed “to not study on the last night before.”
Students need to make studying as manageable as possible to minimize stress levels.
For some, the long weekend before finals really helps to minimize stress and makes studying manageable but for others only seems to make things worse.
Larche said that for her, the long weekend is helpful whereas Mrs. D’Angelo thinks it’s neither helpful or harmful — it all depends on the prep work.
“If a student is prepared the way they should be, it won’t help or hinder them. If they have done the prep work that’s necessary, then they can have time to relax a little or focus on specific things they need to work on,” said Mrs. D’Angelo.
Some of the best advice Mrs. Gowan has to offer when it comes to finals is to “prepare early if you can, get sleep, eat well and allow some down time for yourself when you study.”
Mrs. D’Angelo also has a lot of the same advice when it comes to finals. She says it’s important for students to be prepared academically but also mentally and physically, as well.
When students come looking for advice, Mrs. D’Angelo tells them to “go to bed early, eat healthy, relax, take a little bit of time for yourself and drink lots of water.”